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Full text of "Autobiography of a female slave"

S. G. and E. L. ELBERT 



4' 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/autobiographyoffOObrow_0 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY 



OF A 



FEMALE SLAVE 




EBDPIELD 

34 EEEKMAN STREET, NEW YORK 
185 1 



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year IS 50, "by 
J. S. REDFIELD, 
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York. 



E. 0. JENKINS, 

printer nub ^ t c r c o t ij in r , 

Nc. 26 Fea^tkfoet Stp.eet. 



TO ALL PERSONS 
INTERESTED IN THE CAUSE OF EEEEDOM, 

^1}XB little §00 h 
rs 

RESPECTFULLY AND AFFECTIOXATELY DEDICATED, 
BY 

THE AUTHOR. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

PAGB 

The 014 Kentucky Farm — My Parentage and Early Training— Death of the Master — 



The Sale-day — New Master and New Home, ...... 9 

CHxVPTER 11. 

A View of the New Home, ......... 19 

CHAPTER III. 

The Yankee School-Mistress — Her Philosophy — The American Abolitionists, . . 29 
CHAPTER lY. 

Conversation with Miss Bradly — A Light Breaks through the Darkness, . . .82 
CHAPTER y. 

A Fashionable Tea-Table — Table -Talk — Aunt Polly's Experience — The Overseer's 
Authority — The Whipping-Post — Transfiguring Power of Divine Faith, . . 87 

CHAPTER VI. 

Restored Consciousness— Aunt Polly's Account of my Miraculous Eetum to Life — 
The Master's Affray with the Overseer, . . . . . ,51 

CHAPTER VII. 

Amy's Narrative, and her Philosophy of a Future State, . . . . .58 

CHAPTER VIII. 
Talk at the Farm-House— Threats— The New Beau— Lindy, , . . .65 

CHAPTER IX. 

Idndy's Boldness— A Suspicion — The Master's Accountability — The Young Eeformer 
—Words of Hope— The Cultivated Mulatto— The Dawn of Ambition, . . 76 



VI 



CONTESTS. 



CHAPTER X. 

PAGE 

The C«nTersation, in which Fear and Suspicion are Aroused — The Young Master, . 84 
CHAPTER XI. 

The Flight — Young Master's Apprehensions — His Conversation — Amy — ^Edifying Talk 
among Ladies, .......... 93 

CHAPTER XH. 

Mr. Peterkin's Rage — Its Escape — Chat at the Breakfast-Table — Change of Views — 

Power of the Flesh-pots, . . . . . • . .101 

CHAPTER XIII. 

Eecollections — Consoling Influence of Sympathy — Amy's Doctrine of the Soul — Talk 

at th© Spring, .......... lOT 

CHAPTER XIV. 

The Prattlings of Insanity— Old Wounds Eeopen— The Walk to the Doctor s— Influ- 
ence of Nature, .......... 116 

CHAPTER XV. 

Qaietade of tho Woods— A Glimpse of the Stranger — Mrs. Tandy's Words of Cruel 

Irony — Sad Reflections, ......... 121 

CHAPTER XVI. 

A Reflection — American Abolitionists — Disafiection in Kentucky — The Young Master 

—His Remonstrance, 127 

CHAPTER XVII. 
The Return of the Hunters, flushed with Success — Mr. Peterkin's Vagary, . . 136 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

The Essay of Wit — Young Abolitionist — His Influence— A Xlght at the Door of the 

"Lock-Up,"' 147 

CHAPTER XIX. 

Sympathy casteth out Fear — Consequence of the Night's Watch— Troubled Reflec- 
tions, ......... .161 



CHAPTER XX. 
The Trader— A Terrible Fright— Power of Prayer— Grief of the Helpless, 



170 



COis^TENTS. Vii 
CHAPTER XXI. 

PAGK 

Touching Farewell fall of Pathos— The Parting— My Grief; . , . .188 

CHAPTER XXn. 
A Conversation — Hope Blossoms Out, but Charlestown is full of Excitability, . . 191 

CHAPTER XXIII. 
The Supper — Its Consequences — Loss of Silver — A Lonely Night — Amy, . . 201 

CHAPTER XXIV. 
Th« Punishment — Cruelty — Its Fatal Consequence— Death, . • » 211 

CHAPTER XXV. 

Conversation of the Father and Son— The Discovery ; its Consequences— Death of the 

Young and Beautiful, ........ .221 

CHAPTER XXVI. 
The Funeral — Miss Bradly's Departure — The Dispute — Spirit QLiObiious, . . 232 

CHAPTER XXVII. 
The Awful Confession of the Master— Death— its Cold Solemnity, . . . 24o 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 

The Bridal — Its Ceremonies — A Trip, and a Change of iHomes — The Magnoiia — A 

Stranger, .......... 251 

CHAPTER XXIX. 
The Argument, ........... 269 

CHAPTER XXX. 
The Misdemeanor — ^The Punishment — Its Consequence — Fright, , . . 279 

CHAPTER XXXL 
The Day of Trial— Anxiety— The Volunteer Counsel— Verdict of the Jury, . . 293 

CHAPTER XXXII. 
Execution of the Sentence — A Change — Hope, ...... 303 

CHAPTER XXXni. 

6»ld— Life as a Slave— Pen — Charles' Story— Uncle Peter's Troubles — ^A Star Peeping 

Forth from the Cloud, . . . . . . . . . 814 



viii ^ 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

PAGE 



Scene iu the Pen— Starting " Down the Eiyef'— Uncle Peter's Trial— My Eescue, . 833 

CHAPTER XXXV. 
The New Home— A Pleasant Family Group— Quiet Love-Meetings, . . .342 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 

The New Associates— Depraved Views — Elsy's Mistake — Departure of the Young 

Ladies-^Loneliness, 848 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 

The New Mistress — Her Kindness of Disposition — ^A Pretty Home — And Love-Inter- 
views in the Summer Days, ........ 365 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

An Awful Kevelation — More Clouds to Darken the Sun of Life— Sickness and blessed 

Insensibility, 866 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 
Gradual Eeturn of Happy Spirits — Brighter Prospects — An Old Acquaintance, . 374 

CHAPTER XL. 

The Crisis of Existence— A Dreadful Page in Life, . . . . .881 
CHAPTER XLL 

A Eevelation— Death the Peaceful Angel— Calmness, ..... 891 



CHAPTER XLII. 
Conclusion, . , . . , 



898 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY 

OF A 



CHAPTER 1. 

THE OLD KENTUCKY FARM — MY PARENTAGE AND EARLY TRAIN- 

LNG DEATH OF THE MASTER — THE SALE-DAY — NEW MASTER 

AND NEW HOME. 

I WAS born in one of the soutlaem counties of Kentucky. 
My earliest recollections araof a large, old-fashioned farm-house, 
built of hewn rock, in which my old master, Mr. Nelson, and 
his family, consisting of a widowed sister, two daughters and 
two sons, resided. I have but an indistinct remembrance of 
my old master. At times, a shadow of an idea, like the reflec- 
tion of a kind dream, comes over my mind, and, then, I conjure 
him up as a large, venerable-looking man, with scanty, gray locks 
floating carelessly over an amplitude of forehead; a wide, hard- 
featured face, with yet a kindly glow of honest sentiment ; 
Droad, strong teeth, much discolored by the continued use of 
tobacco. 

I well remember that, as a token of his good-will, he always 
presented us (the slave-children) with a slice of buttered bread, 
when we had finished our daily task. I have also a faint 
reminiscence of his old hickory cane being shaken over my head 
two or three times, and the promise (which remained, until his 
death, unfulfilled) of a good ^* thrashing''^ at some future period. 

My mother was a very bright mulatto woman, and my father, 

[9] 



10 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



I suppose, was a wliite man, tliongli I know nothing of him ; 
for, with the most iinpaternal feehng, he deserted me. A 
consequence of this amalgamation was my very fair and beauti- 
ful complexion. My skin was no perceptible shade darker than 
that of my young mistresses. My eyes were large and dark, while 
a profusion of nut-brown hair, straight and soft as the whitest 
lady's in the land, fell in showery redundance over my neck and 
shoulders. I was often mistaken for a white child ; and in my 
rambles through the woods, many caresses have I received from 
wayside travellers ; and the exclamation, " What a beautiful 
child!" was quite common. Owing to this personal beauty I 
was a great pet with my master's sister, Mrs. Woodbridge, who, 
I believe I have stated, was a widow, and childless ; so upon 
me she lavished all the fondness of a warm and loving heart. 

My mother, Keziah the cook, commonly called Aunt Kaisy, 
was possessed of an indomitable ambition, and had, by the 
hardest means, endeavored to acquire the rudiments of an edu- 
cation ; but all that she had succeeded in obtaining was a 
knowledge of the alphabet, and orthography in two syllables. 
Being very imitative, she eschewed the ordinary negroes' pronun- 
ciation, and adopted the mode of speech used by the higher classes 
of whites. She was very much delighted when Mrs. Woodbridge 
or Miss Betsy (as we called her) began to instruct me in the 
elements of the English language. I inherited my mother's 
thirst for knowledge; and, by intense study, did all I could to 
spare Miss Betsy the usual drudgery of a teacher. The aptitude 
that I displayed, may be inferred from the fact that, in three 
months from the day she began teaching me the alphabet, I was 
reading, v/ith some degree of fluency, in the First Reader." 
I have often heard her relate this as quite a literary and educa- 
tional marvel. 

There were so many slaves upon the farm, particularly young 
ones, that I was regarded as a supernumerary; consequently, 
spared from nearly all the work. I sat in Miss Betsy's room, 
with book in hand, little heeding anything else ; and, if ever I 
manifested the least indolence, my mother, with her wild ambi- 



DEATH OF THE MASTER. 



11 



tion, was sure to rally me, and even ofier the tempting bribe of 
cakes and apples. 

I have frequently beard my old master say, "Betsy, yoii 
will spoil tbat girl, teaching her so much." " She is too pretty 
for a slave,'' was ber invariable reply. 

Thus smoothly passed the early part of my life, until an event 
occurred wbicb was tbe cause of a change in my whole fate. 
My old master became suddenly and dangerously ill. My les- 
sons were suspended, for Miss Betsy's services were required in 
tbe sick chamber. I used to slyly steal to the open door of his 
room, and peep in, with wonder, at the sombre group collected 
there. I recollect seeing my young masters and mistresses 
weeping round a curtained bed. Then there came a time when 
loud screams and frightful lamentations issued thence. There 
were shrieks that struck upon my ear with a strange thrill ; 
shrieks that seemed to rend souls and break heart-strings. My 
young mistresses, fair, slender girls, fell prostrate upon the floor ; 
and my masters, noble, manly men, bent over the bowed forms 
of their sisters, whispering words which I did not hear, but 
which, my mature experience tells me, must have been of love 
and comfort. 

There came, then, a long, narrow, black box, thickly embossed 
with shining brass tacks, in which my old master was carefully 
laid, with his pale, brawny hands crossed upon his wide chest. 
I remember that, one by one, the slaves were called in to take 
a last look of him who had been, to them, a kind master. They 
all came out with their cotton handkerchiefs pressed to their 
eyes. I went in, with Ave other colored children, to take my 
look. That wan, ghastly face, those sunken eyes and pinched 
features, with the white winding sheet, and the dismal coffin, 
impressed me with a new and wild terror ; and, for weeks after, 
this vision of death" haunted my mind fearfully. 

But I soon after resumed my studies under Miss Betsy's 
tuition. Having little work to do, and seldom seeing my young 
mistresses, I grew up in the same house, scarcely knowing them. 
I was technically termed in the family, " the child," as I was^ 



12 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



not black ; and, being a slave, my masters and mistresses would 
not admit tbat I Tvas white. So I reached the age of ten, still 
called " a child," and actually one in all life's experiences, though 
pretty well advanced in education. I had a very good knowl- 
edge of the rudiments, had bestowed some attention upon Gram- 
mar, and eagerly read every book that fell in my way. Love 
of study taught me seclusive habits ; I read long and late ; and 
the desire of a finished education became the passion of my life. 
Alas ! these days were but a poor preparation for the life that 
was to come after ! 

Miss Betsy, though a warm-hearted woman, was a violent 
advocate of slavery. I have since been puzzled how to recon- 
cile this with her otherwise Christian character ; and, though 
she professed to love me dearly, and had bestowed so much at- 
tention upon the cultivation of my mind, and expressed it as 
her opinion that I was too pretty and white to be a slave, yet, 
if any one had spoken of giving me freedom, she would have 
condemned it as domestic heresy. If I had belonged to her, I 
doubt not but my life would have been a happy one. But, alas! 
a different lot was assigned me ! 

About two years and six months after my old master's death, 
a division was made of the property. This involved a sale of 
everything, even the household furniture. There were, I be- 
lieve, heavy debts hanging over the estate. These must be met, 
and the residue divided among the heirs. 

When it was made known in the kitchen that a sale was to 
be made, the slaves were panic-stricken. Loud cries and lamen- 
tations arose, and my young mistresses came often to the kitchen 
to comfort us. 

One of these young ladies. Miss Margaret, a tall, nobly-formed 
girl, with big blue eyes and brown hair, frequently came and 
sat with us, trying, in the most persuasive tones, to reconcile 
the old ones to their destiny. Often did I see the large tears 
roll down her fair cheeks, and her red lip quiver. These indi^ 
cations of sympathy, coming from such a lovely being, cheerec] 
many an hour of after-captivity. 



SALE-DAY. 



13 



But the ''sale-day" came at last ; I have a confused idea of 
it. The ladies left the day before. Miss Betsy took an affec- 
tionate leave of me ; ah, I did not then know that it was a 
final one. 

The ^servants were all sold, as I heard one man say, at very 
high rates, though not under the auctioneer's hammer. To that 
my young masters were opposed. 

A tall, hard-looking man came up to me, very roughly seized 
my arm, bade me open my mouth ; examined my teeth ; felt of 
my limbs ; made me run a few yards ; ordered me to jump ; 
and, being well satisfied with my activity, said to Master Ed- 
ward, " I will take her." Little comprehending the full meaning 
of that brief sentence, I rejoined the group of children from 
which I had been summoned. After awhile, my mother came 
up to me, holding a wallet in her hand. The tear-drops stood 
on her cheeks, and her whole frame was distorted with pain. 
She walked toward me a few steps, then stopped, and suddenly 
shaking her head, exclaimed, ''No, no, I can't do it, I can't do 
it." I was amazed at her grief, but an indefinable fear kept me 
from rushing to her. 

" Here, Kitty," she said to an old negro woman, who stood 
near, " you break it to her. I can't do it. No, it will drive me 
mad. Oh, heaven ! that I was ever born to see this day." 
Then rocking her body back and forward in a transport of agony, 
she gave full vent to her feelings in a long, loud, piteous wail. 
Oh, God ! that cry of grief, that knell of a breaking heart, rang 
in my ears for many long and painful days. At length Aunt 
Kitty approached me, and, laying her hand on my shoulder, 
kindly said : 

" Alas, poor chile, you mus' place your trus' in the good God 
above, you mus' look to Him for help ; you are gwine to leave 
your mother now. You are to have a new home, a new master, 
and I hope new friends. May the Lord be with you." So say- 
ing, she broke suddenly away from me ; but I saw that her 
wrinkled face was wet with tears. 

With perhaps an idle, listless air, I received this astounding 



14 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



news ; but a whirlwind was gathering in my breast. What 
could she mean hj new friends and a new home ? Surely I 
was to take my mother with me ! No mortal power would dare 
to sever us. Why, I remember that when master sold the gray 
mare, the colt went also. Who could, who would, who dared, 
separate the parent from her offspring? Alas! I had yet to 
learn that the white man dared do all that his avarice might 
suggest ; and there was no human tribunal where the outcast 
African could pray for " right !" Ah, when I now think of my 
poor mother's form, as it swayed like a willow in the tempest 
of grief ; when I remember her bitter cries, and see her arms 
thrown franticly toward me, and hear her earnest — oh, how 
earnest — prayer for death or madness, then I wonder where were 
Heaven's thunderbolts ; but retributive Justice will come sooner 
or later, and He who remembers mercy now will not forget 
justice the?i. 

Come along, gal, come along, gather up your duds, and 
come with me," said a harsh voice ; and, looking up from my 
bewildered reverie, I beheld the man who had so carefully ex- 
amined me. I was too much startled to fully understand the 
words, and stood vacantly gazing at him. This strange manner 
he construed into disrespect ; and, raising his riding-whip, 
he brought it down with considerable force upon my back. It 
was the first lash I had ever given to me in anger. I smarted 
beneath the stripe, and a cry of pain broke from my lips. 
Mother sprang to me, and clasping my quivering form in her 
arms, cried out to my young master, Oh, Master Eddy, have 
mercy on me, on m^^ child. I have served you faithfully, 1 
nursed you, I grew up with your poor mother, who now sleeps 
in the cold ground. I beg you now to save viy chilcly^ and she 
sank down at his feet, whilst her tears fell fast. 

Then my poor old grandfather, who was called the patriarch 
slave, being the eldest one of the race in the whole neighbor- 
hood, joined us. His gray head, wrinkled face, and bent form, 
told of many a year of hard servitude. 

What is it, Massa Ed, what is it Kaisy be takin' on so 



THE NEW MASTER. 



15 



*bout ? you liaint driv the cliile off? No — no ! young massa 
only playin' trick now ; come Kais' don't be makin' fool of your- 
sef, young massa not gwine to separate you and the chile." 

These words seemed to reanimate my mother, and she looked 
up at Master Edward with a grateful expression of face, whilst 
she clasped her arms tightly around his knees, exclaiming, " Oh, 
bless you, young master, bless you forever, and forgive poor 
Kaisy for distrusting you, but Pompey told me the child was 
sold away from me, and that gemman struck her and here 
again she sobbed, and caught hold of me convulsively, as if she 
feared I might be taken. 

I looked at my young master's face, and the ghastly white- 
ness which overspread it, the tearful glister of his eye, and the 
strange tremor of his figure, struck me with fright. 1 knew my 
doom. Young as 1 was, my first dread was for my mother; I 
forgot my own perilous situation, and mourned alone for her. 
I would have given worlds could insensibility have been grant- 
ed her. 

I've got no time to be foolin' longer with these niggers, 
come 'long, gal. Ann, I believe, you tole me was her name," 
he said, as he turned to Master Edward. Another wild shriek 
from my mother, a deep sigh from grandpap, and I looked at 
master Ed, who was striking his forehead vehemently, and the 
tears were trickling down his cheeks. 

^' Here, Mr. Peterkin, here !" exclaimed Master Edward, here 
is your bill of sale ; I will refund your money ; release me from 
my contract." 

Peterkin cast on him one contemptuous look, and with a 
low, chuckling laugh, replied, No ; you m.ust stand to your 
bargain, I want that gal ; she is likely, and it will do me good 
to thrash the devil out of her turning to me he added, quit 
your snuffling and snubbing, or I'll give you something to cry 
'bout ;" and, roughly catching me by the arm, he hurried me 
off, despite the entreaty of Master Ed, the cries of mother, and 
the feeble supplication of my grandfather. I dared to cast one 
look behind, and beheld my mother wallowing in the dust, 



16 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE >SLAVE.. 



whilst her frantic cries of save mj child, save my child rang 
with fearful agony in my ears. Master Ed covered his face 
with his hands, and old grandfather reverently raised his to 
Heaven, as if beseeching mercy. The sight of this anguish- 
stricken group filled me with a new sense of horror, and forget- 
ful of the presence of Peterkin, I burst into tears : but I was 
quickly recalled by a fierce and stinging blow from his stout 
riding- whip. 

" See here, nigger (this man, raised among negroes, used 
their dialect), if you dar' to give another whimper, I'll beat the 
very life out 'en yer." This terrific threat seemed to scare 
away every thought of precaution ; and, by a sudden and agile 
bound, I broke loose from him and darted off to the sad group, 
from which I had been so ruthlessly torn, and, sinking down 
before Master Ed, I cried out in a wild, despairing tone, " Save 
me, good master, save me — kill me, or hide me from that awful 
man, he'll kill me and, seizing hold of the skirt of his coat, 
I covered my face with it to shut out the sight of Peterkin, 
whose red eye-balls were glaring with fury upon me. Oath 
after oath escaped his lips. Mother saw him rapidly approach- 
ing to recapture me, and, with the noble, maternal instinct of 
self-sacrifice, sprang forward only to receive the heavy blow of 
his uplifted whip. She reeled, tottered and sank stunned upon 
the ground. 

Thar, take that, you yaller hussy, and cuss yer nigger hide 
for daring to raise this rumpus here," he said, as he rapidly 
strode past her. 

*' Gently, Mr. Peterkin," exclaimed Master Edward, let me 
speak to her ; a little encouragement is better than force." 

" This is my encouragement for them,'' and he shook his 
whip. 

Unheeding him, Master Edward turned to me, saying, Ann, 
come now, be a good girl, go with this gentleman, and be an 
obedient girl ; he will give you a kind, nice home ; sometimes 
he will let you come to see your mother. Here is some money 
for you to buy a pretty head -handkerchief ; now go with him." 



THE POWER OF KINDNESS. 



17 



These kind words and encouraging tones, brought a fresh gush 
of tears to my eyes. Taking the half-dollar which he offered 
me, and reverently kissing the skirt of his coat, I rejoined 
Peterkin ; one look at his cold, harsh face, chilled my resolu- 
tion ; yet I had resolved to go without another word of com- 
plaint. I could not suppress a groan when I passed the spot 
where my mother lay still insensible from the effects of the blow 

One by one the servants, old and young, gave me a hearty 
shake of the hand as I passed the place where they were stand- 
ing in a row for the inspection of buyers. 

I had nerved myself, and now that the parting from mother 
was over, I felt that the bitterness of death was past, and I 
could meet anything. Nothing now could be a trial, yet I was 
touched when the servants offered me little mementoes and 
keepsakes. One gave a yard of ribbon, another a half-paper 
of pins, a third presented a painted cotton head-tie ; others 
gave me ginger-cakes, candies, or small coins. Out of their 
little they gave abundantly, and, small as were the bestowments 
I well knew that they had made sacrifices to give even so much. 
I was too deeply affected to make any other acknowledgment 
than a nod of the head ; for a choking thickness Avas gathering 
in my throat, and a blinding mist obscured my sight. I did 
not see my young mistresses, for they had left the house, de- 
claring they could not bear to witness a spectacle, so revolting 
to their feelings. 

Upon reaching the gate I observed a red-painted wagon, 
with an awning of domestic cotton. Standing near it, and hold- 
ing the horses, was an old, worn, scarred, weather-beaten negro 
man, who instantly took off his hat as Mr. Peterkin approached. 

Well, Nace, you see I've bought this wench to-day," and 
he shook his whip over my head. 

" Ya ! ya! Massa, but she ha' got one goot home wid yer." 

** Yes, has she, Nace ; but don't yer think the slut has been 
cryin' 'bout it !" 

" Lor' bless us, Massa, but a little of the beech-tree will fetch 



18 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



that sort of truck out of lier," and old Nace showed Lis broken 
teeth, as he gave a forced laugh. 

'^I guess I can take the fool out en her, by the time I gives 
her two or three swings at the whippin'-post." 

^N'ace shook his head knowingly, and gave a low guttural 
laugh, by way of approval of his master's capabilities. 

''Jump in the wagon, gal," said my new master, "jump in 
quick ; I likes to see niggers active, none of your pokes 'bout 
me ; but this will put sperit in 'em,'' and there was another de- 
fiant flourish of the whip. 

I got in with as much haste and activity as I could possibly 
command. This appeared to please Mr. Peterkin, and he gave 
evidence of it by saying, — 

Well, that does prett}^ well ; a few stripes a day, and you'll 
be a valerble slave ;" and, getting in the vehicle himself, he 
ordered Nace to drive on pretty peart as night would soon 
overtake us. 

Just as we were starting I perceived Josh, one of my play- 
mates, running after us with a small bundle, shouting, — 

" Here, Ann, you've lef ' yer bundle of close." 
Stop, Nace," said Mr. Peterkin, "let's git the gal's duds, or 
I'll be put to the 'spence of gittin' new ones for her." 

Little Josh came bounding up, and, Avith an affectionate man- 
ner, handed me the little wallet that contained my entire VN^ard- 
robe. I leaned forward, and, in a muffled tone, but with my 
whole heart hanging on my lip, asked Josh " how is mother ?" 
but a cut of Nace's whip, and a quick "gee-up," put me beyond 
the hearing of the reply. I strained my eyes after Josh, to 
interpret the motion of his lips. 

In a state of hopeless agony I sat through the remainder of 
the journey. The coarse jokes and malignant threats of Mr. 
Peterkin were answered with laughing and dutiful assent by the 
veteran Nace. I tried to deceive my persecutors by feigning 
sleep, but, ah, a strong finger held my lids open, and slumber 
fled away to gladden lighter hearts and bless brighter eyes. 



CHAPTEE II. 



A VIEW OF THE NEW HOME. 

The young moon had risen in mild and meek serenity to bless 
the earth. With a strange and fluctuating light the pale rays 
played over the leaves and branches of the forest trees, and 
flickered fantastically upon the ground ! Only a few stars were 
discernible in the highest dome of heaven ! The lowing of 
wandering cows, or the chirp of a night-bird, had power to be- 
guile memory back to a thousand vanished joys. I mused and 
wept ; still the wagon jogged along. Mr. Peterkin sat half- 
sleeping beside old Nace, whose occasional gee-up'' to the 
lagging horses, was the only human sound that broke the soft 
serenity ! Every moment seemed to me an age, for I dreaded 
the awakening of my cruel master. Ah, little did I dream that 
that horrid day's experience was but a brief foretaste of what 
I had yet to sufl'er ; and well it was for me that a kind and 
merciful Providence veiled that dismal future from my gaze. 
About midnight I had fallen into a quiet sleep, gilded by the 
sweetest dream, a dream of the old farm-house, of mother, 
grandfather, and my companions. 

From this vision I was aroused by the grujff voice of Peter- 
kin, bidding me get out of the wagon. That voice was to me 
more frightful and fearful than the blast of the last trump. 
Springing suddenly up, I threw off the shackles of sleep ; and 
consciousness, with all its direful burden, returned fully to me. 
Looking round, by the full light of the moon, I beheld a large 
country house, half hidden among trees. A white paling en- 
closed the ground, and the scent of dewy roses and other garden 
flowers filled the atmosphere. 

" Now, Nace, put up the team, and git yourself to bed," said 



20 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Peterkin. Turning to me he added, give tins gal a blanket, 
and let her sleep on the floor in Polly's cabin ; keep a good 
watch on her, that she don't trj to run oflP." 

Needn't fear dat, Massa, for de bull-dog tear her to pieces 
if she 'tempt dat. By gar, I'd like to see her be for tryin' it ;'' 
and the old negro gave a fiendish laugh, as though he thought it 
would be rare sport. 

Mr. Peterkin entered the handsome house, of which he'was 
the rich and respected owner, whilst I, conducted by Xace, re- 
paired to a dismal cabin. After repeated knocks at the door of 
this most wretched hovel, an old crone of a negress muttered 
between her clenched teeth, " Who's dar ?" 

" It^s me, Polly ; what you be 'bout dar, dat you don't let me 
in?'^ 

What for you be bangin' at my cabin ? I's got no bisness 
wid you." 

" Yes, but Ps got bisness wid you ; stir yer ole stumps now.'' 
I shan't be for troublin' mysef and lettin' you in my cabin 
at dis hour ob de night-time ; and if you doesn't be off, Pll 
make Massa gib you a sound drubbin' in de mornin'." 

" Ha, ha ! now I'm gots you sure ; for massa sends me here 
himsef." 

This was enough for Polly ; she broke oft' all further colloquy, 
and opened the door instantly. 

The pale moonliglit rested as lovingly upon that dreary, un- 
chinked, rude, and wretched hovel, as ever it played over the 
gilded roof and frescoed dome of ancient palaces ; but ah, what 
squalor did it not reveal ! There, resting upon pallets of straw, 
like pigs in a litter, were groups of children, and upon a rickety 
cot the old woman reposed her aged limbs. How strange, 
lonely, and forbidding appeared that tenement, as the old woman 
stood in the doorway, her short and scanty kirtles but poorly 
concealing her meagre limbs. A dark, scowling countenance 
looked out from under a small cap of faded muslin : little bleared 
eyes glared upon me, like the red light of a heated furnace, in- 
stinctively I shrank back from her, but Nace was tired, and not 



THE QUESTIONS OF CONSCIENCE. 



21 



wishing to be longer kept from his bed, pushed me within the 
door, saying — 

Thar, Polly, Massa say dat gal mus' sleep in dar." 

"Come Moug in, gal,'* said the woman, and closing the door, 
she pointed to a patch of straw, " sleep dar.'' 

The moonbeams stole in throngh the crevices and cracks of 
the cabin, and cast a mystic gleam upon the surrounding objects. 
Without further word or comment, Polly betook herself to her 
cot, and was soon snoring away as though there were no such 
thing as care or slavery in the world But to me sleep was a 
stranger. There I lay through the remaining hours of the 
night, wearily thinking of mother and home. " Sold," I mur- 
mured. ** What is it to be sold ? Why was 1 sold ? Why 
separated from my mother and friends ? Why couldn't mother 
come with me. or I stay with her ? I never saw Mr. Peterkin 
before. Who gave him the right to force me from my good 
home and kind friends V These questions would arise in my 
mind, and, alas ! I had no answers for them. Young and igno- 
rant as I was, I had yet some glimmering idea of justice. Later 
in life, these same questions have often come to rae, as sad com- 
mentaries upon the righteousness of human laws ; and, when 
sitting in splendid churches listening to ornate and wo^idly 
harangues from Jioly men, these same thoughts have tingled 
upon my tongue. And I have been surprised to see how 
strangely these men mistake the definition of servitude. Why, 
from the exposition of the worthy divines, one would sup- 
pose that servitude was a fair synonym for slavery ! Admit- 
ting that we are the descendants of the unfortunate Ham, and 
endure our bondage as the penalty affixed to his crime, there 
can be no argument or fact adduced, whereby to justify slavery 
as a moral right. Serving and being a slave are very different. 
And why may not Ham's descendants,claim a reprieve by virtue 
of the passion and death of Christ ? Are we excluded from the 
grace of that atonement ? No ; there is no argument, no reason, 
to justify slavery, save that of human cupidity. But there will 
come a day, when each and every one who has violated that 



22 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



divine rule, Do unto others as you would have them do unto 
you," will stand with a fearful accountability before the Su- 
preme Judge. Then will there be loud cries and lamentations, 
and a wish for the mountains to hide them from the eye of 
Judicial Majesty. 

The next morning I rose with the dawn, and sitting upright 
upon my pallet, surveyed the room and its tenants. There, in 
comfortless confusion, upon heaps of straw, slumbered five chil- 
dren, dirty and ragged. On the broken cot, with a remnant of 
a coverlet thrown over her, lay Aunt Polly. A few broken 
stools and one pine box, with a shelf containing a few tins, con- 
stituted the entire furniture. 

*' And this wretched pen is to be my home ; these dirty-look- 
ing children my associates." Oh, how dismal were my thoughts; 
but little time had I for reflection. The shrill sound of a hunt- 
ing-horn was the summons for the servants to arise, and woe 
unto him or her who was found missing or tardy when the 
muster-roll was called. Aunt Polly and the five children sprang 
up, and soon dressed themselves. They then appeared in the 
yard, where a stout, athletic man, with full beard and a dull eye, 
stood with whip in hand. He called over the names of all, and 
portioned out their daily task. TVith a smile more of terror than 
pleasure, they severally received their orders. I stood at the 
extremity of the range. x\fter disposing of them in order, the 
overseer (for such he was) looked at me fiercely, and said : 
Come here, gal." 

With a timid step, I obeyed. 

" What are you fit for ? Not much of anything, ha ?" and 
catching hold of my ear he pulled me round in front of him, 
saying, 

" Well, you are likely-looking ; how much work can you 
do r 

I stammered out something as to my willingness to do any- 
thing that was required of me. He examined my hands, and 
concluding from their dimensions that I was best suited for 
house-work, he bade me remain in the kitchen until after 



A KENTUCKY KITCHEX. 



23 



breakfast. When I entered the room designated, par polltesse, 
as the kitchen, I was surprised to find such a desolate and des- 
titute-looking place. The apartment, which was very small, 
seemed to be a sort of Pandora's Box, into which everything of 
household or domestic use had been crowded. The walls were 
hung round with saddles, bridles, horse-blankets, &c. Upon a 
swinging shelf in the centre of the room were ranged all the 
seeds, nails, ropes, dried elms, and the rest of the thousand and 
one little notions of domestic economy. A rude, wooden shelf con- 
tained a dark, dusty row of unclean tins ; broken stools and old 
kegs were substituted for chairs ; upon these were stationed 
four or five ebony children ; one of them, a girl about nine years 
old, with a dingy face, to which soap and water seemed foreign, 
and with shaggy, moppy hair, twisted in short, stringy plaits, sat 
upon a broken keg, with a squalid baby in her lap, which she 
jostled upon her knee, whilst she sang in a sharp key, hushy- 
by-baby." Three other Vv^retched children, in tow-linen dresses, 
whose brevity of skirls made a sad appeal to the modesty of 
spectators, were perched round this girl, whom they called 
Amy. They were furiously begging Aunt Polly (the cook) to 
give them a piece of hoe-cake. 

Be oif wid you, or I'll tell Massa, or de overseer,'' answered 
the beldame, as their solicitations became more clamorous. 
This threat had power to silence the most earnest demands of 
the stomach, for the fiend of hunger was far less dreaded than 
the lash of Mr. Jones, the overseer. My entrance, and the 
sight of a strange face, was a diversion for them. They crowd- 
ed closer to Amy, and eyed me with a half doubtful, and alto- 
gether ludicrous air. 

"Who's her ?" ''whar she come from "when her gwyn 
away and such like expressions, escaped them, in stifled 
tones. 

" Come in, set down," said Aunt Polly to me, and, turning to 
the group of children, she levelled a poker at them. 

" Keep still dar, or I'll break your pates wid dis poker." 
Instantly they cowered down beside Amy, still peeping over 



24 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



her shoulder, to get a better view of me. With a very uneasy 
feeling I seated myself upon the broken stool, to which Aunt 
Polly pointed. One of the boldest of the children came up to 
me, and, slyly touching my dress, said, " tag/- then darted off 
to her hiding-place, with quite the air of a victress. Amy 
made queer grimaces at me. Every now and then placing her 
thumb to her nose, and gyrating her finger towards me, she 
would drawl out, you ka-n-t kum it." All this was perfect 
jargon to me ; for at home, though vv e had been but imperfectly 
protected by clothing from the vicissitudes of seasons, and 
though our fare was simple, coarse, and frugal, had we been 
kindly treated, and our manners trained into something like the 
softness of humanity. There, as regularly as the Sunday 
dawned, were we summoned to the house to hear the Bible 
read, and join (^though at a respectful distance) with the family 
in prayer. But this I subsequently learned was an unusual 
practice in the neighborhood, and was attributed to the fact, 
that my master's wife had been born in the State of Massachu- 
setts, where the people were crazy and fanatical enough to be- 
lieve that " niggers'' had souls, and were by God held to be re- 
sponsible beings. 

The loud blast of the horn was the signal for the " hands " 
to suspend their labor and come to breakfast. Two negro men 
and three women rushed in at the door, ravenous for their 
rations. I looked about for the table, but, seeing none, concluded 
it had yet to be arranged ; for at home we always took our 
meals on a table. I was much surprised to see each one here 
take a slice of fat bacon and a pone of bread in his or her hand, 
and eat it standing. 

" Well," said one man, *' I'd like to git a bit more bread." 
You's had your sher," replied Aunt Polly. Mister Jones 
ses one slice o' meat and a pone o' bread is to be the 'lowance." 

" I knows it, but if thar's any scraps left from the house table, 
you wimmin folks always gits it." 

Who's got de bes' right ? Sure, and am't de one who cooks 
it got de bes' right to it ?'' asked Polly, with a triumphant voice. 



THE AFFRAY AND PUNISHMENT. 



25 



"Ha, ha!'* cried Nace, "here comes de breakfast leavin's, 
now who's smartest shall have 'em ;" whereupon Nace, his 
comrade, and the three women, seized a waiter of fragments of 
biscuit, broiled ham, coffee, &c., the remains of the breakfast 
prepared for the white family. 

" By gar," cried Nace, " IVe got de coffee-pot, and I'll drink 
dis so, without further ceremony, he applied the spout to his 
mouth, and, sans cream or sugar, he quaffed off the grounds. 
Jake possessed himself of the ham, whilst the two women held 
a considerable contest over a biscuit. Blow and lie passed fre- 
quently between them. Aunt Polly brandished her skimmer- 
spoon, as though it were Neptune's trident of authority ; still 
she could not allay the confusion which these excited cormorants 
raised. The children yelled out and clamored for a bit ; the 
sight and scent of ham and biscuits so tantalized their palates, 
that they forgot even the terror of the whip. I stood all agape, 
looking on with amazement. 

The two belligerent women stood with eyes blazing like 
comets, their arms twisted around each other in a very decided 
and furious rencontre. One of them, losing her balance, fell 
upon the floor, and, dragging the other after her, they rolled 
and wallowed in a cloud of dust, whilst the disputed biscuit, in 
the heat of the affray, had been dropped on the hearth, where, 
nnperceived by the combatants, Nace had possessed himself of 
it, and was happily masticating it. 

Melinda, the girl from whom the waiter had been snatched, 
doubtless much disappointed by the loss of the debris, returned 
to the house and made a report of the fracas. 

Instantly and unexpectedly, J ones, flaming with rage, stood 
in the midst of the riotous group. Seizing hold of the women, 
he knocked them on their heads with his clenched fists. 

" Hold, black wretches, come, I will give you a leetle fun ; 
off now to the post." 

Then such appeals for mercy, promises of amendment, en- 
treaties, excuses, &c., as the two women made, would have 
touched a heart of stone ; but Jones had power to resist even 
2 



26 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



the prayers of an angel. To him the cries of human suffering 
and the agony of distress were music. My heart Lied when I 
saw the two victims led away, and I put my hands to my ears 
to shut out the screams of distress which rang with a strange 
terror on the morning air. Poor, oppressed African ! thorny 
and rugged is your path of life ! Many a secret sigh and bleeding 
tear attest your cruel martyrdom ! Surely He, who careth alike 
for the high and the low, looks not unmoved upon you, wearing 
and gi'oaning beneath the pressing burden and galling yoke of a 
most inhuman bondage. For you there is no broad rock of Hope 
or Peace to cast its shadow of rest in this weary land." You 
must sow in tears and reap in sorrow. But He, who led the chil- 
dren of Israel from the house of bondage and the fetters of cap- 
tivity, will, in His own inscrutable way, lead you from the condi- 
tion of despair, even by the pillar of fire and the cloud. Great 
changes are occurring daily, old constitutions are tottering, old 
systems, fraught with the cruelty of darker ages, are shaking 
to their centres. Master minds are everywhere actively en- 
gaged. Keen eyes and vigilant hearts are open to the wrongs 
of the poor, the lowly and the outcast. An avenging angel sits 
concealed 'mid the drapery of the wasting cloud, ready to pour 
the vials of God's wrath upon a haughty and oppressive race. 
In the threatened famine, see we nothing but an accidental 
failure of the crops ? In the exhausted coffers and empty public 
treasury, is there nothing taught but the lesson of national ex- 
travagance ? In the viiiilence of disease, the increasing preva- 
lence of fatal epidemics, what do we read ? Send for the seers, 
the wise men of the nation, and bid them translate the ** niys- 
terious writing on the wall." Ah, well may ye shake, Kings 
of Mammon, shake upon your tottering throne of human bones! 
Give o'er your sports, suspend your orgies, dash down the jew- 
elled cup of unhallowed joy, sparkling as it is to the very brim. 
You must pay, like him of old, the fearful price of sin. God 
hath not heard, unmoved, the anguished cries of a down-trodden 
and enslaved nation ! And it needs no Daniel to tell, that 
God hath numbered your Kingdom and it is finished." 



THE YOUNG LADIES. 



27 



As may be supposed, I had little appetite for my breakfast, 
but I managed to deceive others into the belief that I had made 
a hearty meal. But those screams from half-famished wretches 
had a fatal and terrifying fascination ; never once could I 
forget it. 

A look of fright was on the face of all. They be gettin' 
awful beatin' at the post/' muttered Nace, whilst a sardonic 
smile flitted over his hard features. Was it not sad to behold 
the depths of degradation into which this creature had fallen ? 
He could smile at the anguish of a fellow-creature. Originally, 
his nature may have been kind and gentle ; but a continuous 
system of brutality had so deadened his sensibilities, that he 
had no humanity left. Foi' this, the white man is accountable. 

After the breakfast was over, I received a summons to the 
house. Following Melinda, I passed the door-sill, and stood in 
the presence of the assembled household. A very strange 
group I thought them. Two girls were seated beside the un- 
cleared breakfast table, ^' trying their fortune " (as the phrase 
goes) with a cup of coffee-grounds and a spoon. The elder of 
the two was a tall, thin girl, with sharp features, small gray 
eyes, and red-hair done up in frizettes ; the other was a prim, 
dark-skinned girl, with a set of nondescript features, and hair 
of no particular hue, or **just any color/' but with the same 
harsh expression of face that characterized the elder. As she 
received the magic cup from her sister, she exclaimed, " La, 
Jane, it will only be two years until you are married,'' and made 
a significant grimace at her father (Mr. Peterkin), who sat 
near the window, indulging in the luxury of a cob-pipe. The 
taller girl turned toward me, and asked, 

" Father, is that the new gh'l you bought at old Nelson's 
sale ?" 

Yes, that's the gal. Does she suit you ?*' 

" Yes, but dear me ! how very light she is — almost white ! 
I know she will be impudent." 

" She has come to the wrong place for the practice of that 
article," suggested the other. 



28 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Yes, gal, you lias got to mind them ar' wimmciij' said Mr. 
Peterkin to me, as be pointed toward liis daugliters. 

Father, I do \yisli you would quit that vulgarism ; say girl^ 
not gal, and ladies, not women.'' 

" Oh, I was never edicated, like you." 

'* Educated is the word." 

" Oh, confound your dictionaries ! Ever since that school- 
marm come out from Yankee-land, these neighborhood gals talk 
so big, nobody can understand 'em." 



CHAPTEE III. 



THE YANKEE SCHOOL-MISTRESS — HER PHILOSOPHY — THE 
AMERICAN ABOLITIONISTS. 

The family with whom I now found a home, consisted of 
Mr. Peterkin and his two daughters, Jane and Matilda, and a 
son, John, much younger than the ladies. 

The death of Mrs. Peterkin had occurred about three years 
before I went to live with them. The girls had been very well 
educated by a Miss Bradly, from Massachusetts, a spinster of 
**no particular age.'' From her, the Misses Peterkin learned to 
set a great value upon correct and elegant language. She was 
the model and instructress of the country round ; for, under her 
jurisdiction, nearly all the farmers' daughters had been initi- 
ated into the mysteries of learning. Scattered about, over the 
house, I used to frequently find odd leaves of school-books, ele- 
mentary portions of natural sciences, old readers, story-books, 
novels, &c. These I eagerly devoured ; but I had to be very 
secret about it, studying by dying embers, reading by moon- 
light, sun-rise, &c. Had I been discovered, a severe punishment 
would have followed. Miss Jane used to say, ^' a. literary negro 
was disgusting, not to be tolerated." Though she quarrelled 
with the vulgar talk and bad pronunciation of her father, he was 
made of too rough material to receive a polish ; and, though 
Miss Bradly had improved the minds of the girls, her efforts to 
soften their hearts had met with no success. They were the 
same harsh, cold and selfish girls that she had found them. It 
was J ane's boast that she had whipped more negroes than any 
other girl of her age. Matilda, though less severe, had still a 
touch of the tigress. 

This family lived in something like style.'' They were 

[29] 



30 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



famed for tlieir wecaltli and social position tlirougliout the neigli- 
borliood. The house wels a low cottage structure, with Lirge 
and airy apartments ; an arching piazza ran the Avhole length 
of the building, and around its trellised balustrade the clematis 
vine twined in rich luxuriance. A primrose-walk led up to the 
door, and the yard blossomed like a garden, with the fairest 
flowers. It was a very Paradise of homes ; pity, ah pity 'twas, 
that human fiends marred its beauty. There the sweet flowers 
bloomed, the young birds warbled, pure springs gushed forth with 
limpid joy — there truly, All, save the spirit of man, was 
divine." The traveller often paused to admire the tasteful ar- 
rangements of the grounds, the neat and artistic plan of the 
house, and the thorous^h " air" of evervthino: around. It seemed 
to bespeak refined minds, and delicate, noble natures; but oh, 
the flowers were no symbols of the graces of their hearts, for the 
dwellers of this highly-adorned spot were people of coarse na- 
tures, rough and cruel as barbarians. The nightly stars and the 
gentle moon, the deep glory of the noontide, or the blowing of 
twilight breezes over this chosen home, had no power to ennoble 
or elevate their souls. Acts of diabolical cruelty and wickedness 
were there perpetrated without the least pang of remorse or re- 
gret. "Whilst the white portion of the family were revelling in 
luxury, the slaves were denied the most ordinary necessaries. 
The cook, who prepared the nicest dainties, the most tempting 
viands, had to console herself with a scanty diet, coarse enough 
to shock even a beggar. What wonder, then, if the craving nf 
the stomach should allow her no escape from downright theft! 
Who is there that could resist ? Where is the honesty that could 
not, under such circumstances, find an argument to justify lar- 
ceny? 

Every evening Miss Bradly came to spend an hour or so with 
them. The route from the school to her boarding-house wound 
by Mr. Peterkin's residence, and the temptation to talk to the 
young ladies, who were emphatically the belles of the neighbor- 
hood, was too great for resist'ance. This lady was of that class 
of females "which we meet in every quarter of the globe, — of 



THE ABOLITIONISTS. 



31 



perfectly kind intentions, yet without tlie independence neces- 
sary for tlieir open and free expression. Bred in the North, and 
having from her infancy imbibed the spirit of its free institutions, 
in her secret soul she loathed the abomination of slavery, every 
pulse of her heart cried out against it, yet with a strange com- 
pliance she lived in its midst, never once offering an objection 
or an argument against it. It suited htr policy to laugh with 
the pro-slavery man at the fanaticism of the Northern Abolition- 
ist. With a Judas-like hypocrisy, she sold her conscience for 
silver; and for a mess of pottage, bartered the noble right of 
free expression. 'Twas she, base renegade from a glorious cause, 
who laughed loudest and repeated wholesale libels and foul as- 
persions upon the able defenders of abolition — -noble and gener- 
ous men, lofty philanthropists, who are willing, for the sake of 
principle, to wear upon their brows the mark of social and polit- 
ical ostracism! But a day is coming, a bright millennial day, 
when the names of these inspired prophets shall be inscribed 
proudly upon the litany of freedom ; when their noble efforts 
for social reform shall be told in wondering pride around the 
winter's fire. Then shall their fame shine with a glory which 
no Roman tradition can eclipse. Freed from calumny, the 
names of Parker, Seward and Sumner, will be ranked, as they 
deserve to be, with Washington, Franklin and Henry. All 
glory to the American Abolitionists. Though they must now 
possess their souls in patience, and bear the brand of social op- 
probrium, yet will posterity accord them the meed of everlast- 
ing honor. They ^' who sow in dishonor shall be raised in glory." 
Already the watchman upon the tower has discerned the signal. 
A light beameth in the East, which no man can quench. A fire 
has broken forth, which needs only a breath to fan it into a 
flame. The eternal law of sovereign right will vindicate itself. 
In the hour of feasting and revelry the dreadful bolt of retribu- 
tion fell upon Gromorrah. 



CHAPTER lY 



CONVERSATION WITH MISS BRADLY A LIGHT BREAKS THROUGH 

THE DARKNESS. 

I HAD been living with Mr. Peterkin about three years, during 
which time I had frequently seen Miss Bradly. One evening 
when she called (as was her custom after the adjournment of 
school), she found, upon inquiry, that the young ladies had gone 
out, and would not probably be back for several hours. She 
looked a little disconcerted, and seemed doubtftil whether she 
would go home or remain. I had often observed her attentively 
watching me, yet I could not interpret the look ; sometimes I 
thought it was of deep, earnest pity. Then it appeared only an 
anxious curiosity; and as commiseration was a thing which I 
seldom met with, I tried to guard my heart against anything 
like hope or trust ; but on this afternoon I was particularly 
struck by her strange and irresolute manner. She turned sev- 
eral times as if to leave, then suddenly stopped, and, looking 
very earnestly at me, asked, ''Did you say the girls would not 
return for several hours 

Upon receiving an answer in the affirmative, she hesitated a 
moment, and then inquired for Mr. Peterkin. He was also from 
home, and would probably be absent for a day or two. *' Is 
there no white person about the place ?" she asked, with some 
trepidation. 

" No one is here but the slaves/' I replied, perhaps in a sor- 
rowful tone, for the word slave" always grated upon my ear, 
yet I frequently used it, in obedience to a severe and imperative 
conventionality. 

*' AYell then, Ann, come and sit down near me ; I want to 
talk with you awhile." 

[32] 



KIND WORDS. 



33 



This surprised me a great deal. I scarcely knew what to do. 
The very idea of sitting down to a conversation with a white 
lady seemed to me the wildest improbability. A vacant stare 
was the only answer I could make. Certainly, 1 did not dream 
of her being in earnest. 

" Come on, Ann,'^ she said, coaxingly ; but, seeing that my 
amazement increased, she added, in a more persuasive tone, 

Don't be afraid, I am a friend to the colored race.'' 

This seemed to me the strangest fiction. A white lady, and 
yet a friend to the colored race ! Oh, impossible ! such con- 
descension was unheard of ! What ! she a refined woman, 
with a snowy complexion, to stoop from her proud elevation to 
befriend the lowly Ethiopian ! Why, she could not, she dare 
not ! Almost stupefied with amazement, I stood, with my eyes 
intently fixed upon her. 

Come, child," she said, in a kind tone, and placing her hand 
upon my shoulder, she endeavored to seat me beside her, "look 
up, — be not ashamed, for I am truly your friend. Your down- 
cast look and melancholy manner have often struck me with 
sorrow.'' 

To this I could make no reply. Utterance was denied me. 
My tongue clove to the roof of my mouth ; a thick, filmy veil 
gathered before my sight ; and there I stood like one turned to 
stone. But upon being frequently reassured by her gentle 
manner and kind words, I at length controlled my emotions, 
and, seating myself at her feet, awaited her communication. 
Ann, you are not happy here ?" 

I said nothing, but she understood my look. 

" Were you happy at home ?" 
I was and the words were scarcely audible. 

" Did they treat you kindly there ?" 

" Indeed they did ; and there I had a mother, and was not 
lonely.'' 

They did not beat you ?" 

"No, no, they did not," and large tears gushed from my 
burning eyes ; — for I remembered with anguish, how many a 



34 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



smarting blow had been given to me by Mr. Jones, how many 
a cufif by Mr. Peterkin, and ten thousand knocks, pinches, and 
tortures, by the young ladies. 

" Don't weep, child," said Miss Bradly, in a soothing tone, 
and she laid her arm caressingly around my neck. This kind- 
ness was too much for my fortitude, and bursting through all 
restraints I gave vent to my feelings in a violent shower of 
tears. She very wisely allowed me some time for the gratifica- 
tion of this luxury. I at length composed myself, and begged 
her pardon for this seeming disrespect. 

*' But ah, my dear lady, you have spoken so kindly to me 
that I forgot myself.'^ 

No apology, my child, I tell you again that I am your 
friend, and with me you can be perfectly free. ^ Look upon me 
as a sister ; but now that your excited feelings have become 
allayed, let me ask you why your master sold you 

I explained to her that it was necessary to the equal division 
of the estate that some of the slaves should be sold, and that I 
was among the number. 

" A bad institution is this one of slavery. What fearful 
entailments of anguish! Manage it as the most humane will, or 
can, still it has horrible results. Witness your separation from 
your mother. Did these thoughts never occur to you V 

I looked surprised, but dared not tell lier that often had 
vague doubts of the justice of slavery crossed my mind. Ah, 
too much I feared the lash, and I answered only by a mournful 
look of assent. 

" Ann, did you never hear of the Abolition Society ?" 

I shook my head. She paused, as if doubtful of the propri- 
ety of making a disclosure ; but at length the better principle 
triumphed, and she said, ''There is in the Northern States an 
organization which devotes its energies and very life to the 
cause of the slave. They wish to abolish the shameful system, 
and make you and all your persecuted race as free and happy 
as the whites." 

Does there really exist such a society ; or is it only a wild 



A GLIMPSE OF HOPE. 



35 



fable that you tell me, for the purpose of allaying my present 
agony 

*^ No, child ; I do not deceive you. This noble and beneficent 
society really lives ; but it does not, I regret to say, flourish as 
it should." 

And why I asked, whilst a new wonder was fastening on 
my mind. 

Because," she answered, ^'the larger portion of the whites 
are mean and avaricious enough to desire, for the sake of pecu- 
niary aggrandizement, the enslavement of a race, whom the 
force of education and hereditary prejudice have taught them to 
regard as their own property." 

I did but dimly conceive her meaning. A slow light was 
breaking through my cloudy brain, kindling and inflaming hopes 
that now shine like beacons over the far waste of memory. 
Should I, could I, ever hej^ree ? Oh, bright and glorious dream I 
how it did sparkle in my soul, and cheer me through the lonely 
hours of bondage ! This hope, this shadow of a hope, shone like 
a mirage far away upon the horizon of a clouded future. 

Miss Bradly looked thoughtfully at me, as if watching the 
efl*ect of her words; but she could not see that the seed which 
she had planted, perhaps carelessly, was destined to fructify 
and flourish through the coming seasons. I longed to pour out 
my heart to her ; for she had, by this ready sesame, "unlocked 
its deepest chambers. I dared not unfold even to her the wild 
dreams and strange hopes which I was indulging. 

I spied Melinda coming up, and signified to Miss Bradly 
that it would be unsafe to prolong the conversation, and quickly 
she departed ; not, however, without reassuring me of the interest - 
which she felt in my fate. 

What was Miss Emily Bradly talking wid you 'bout ?" de- 
manded Melinda, in a surly tone. 

"Nothing that concerns you," I answered. 
Well, but you'll see that it consarns yerself, when I goes 
and tells Masser on you.'' 

What can you tell him on me V 



36 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



*■* Oh, I knows, I hearn you talking wid dat ar' woman and 
slie gave a significant leer of her eye, and lolled her tongue out 
of her mouth, a la mad dog. 

I was much disturbed lest she had heard the conversation, 
and should make a report of it, which would redound to the dis- 
advantage of my new friend. I went about my usual duties 
with a slow and heavy heart; still, sometimes, like a star sliin- 
ing through clouds, was that little bright hope of liberty. 



CHAPTER V. 



A FASHIONABLE TEA-TABLE — TABLE-TALK — AUXT POLLY'S EX- 
PERIENCE THE overseer's AUTHORITY THE WHIPPING- 
POST — TRANSFIGURING POWER OF DIVINE FAITH. 

That evening when tlie family returned, I was glad to find the 
young ladies in such an excellent humor. It was seldom Miss 
Jane, whose peculiar property I was, ever gave me a kind word ; 
and I was surprised on this occasion to hear her say, in a some- 
what gentle tone : 

Well, Ann, come here, I want you to look very nice to-night, 
and wait on the table in style, for I am expecting company 
and, with a sort of half good-natured smile, she tossed an old 
faded neck-ribbon to me, saying. 

There is a present for you.'^ I bowed low, and made a 
respectful acknowledgment of thanks, which she received in an 
unusually complacent manner. 

Immediately I began to make arrangements for supper, and 
to get myself in readiness, which was no small matter, as my 
scanty wardrobe furnished no scope for the exercise of taste. 
In looking over my trunk, I found a white cotton apron, which 
could boast of many mice-bites and moth-workings ; but with a 
needle and thread I soon managed to make it appear decent, 
and, combing my hair as neatly as possible, and tying the rib- 
bon which Miss Jane had given me around it, I gave the finish- 
ing touch to my toilette, and then set about arranging the table. 
I assorted the tea-board, spoons, cups, saucers, &c., placed a 
nice damask napkin at each seat, and turned down the round 
little plates of white French china. The silver forks and ivory- 
handled knives were laid round the table in precise order. 
This done, I surveyed my work with an air of pride. Smiling 

[371 



38 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



complacently to myself, I proceeded to Miss Jane's room, to 
request lier to come and look at it, and express her opinion. 

On reaching her apartment, I found her dressed with great 
care, in a pink silk, with a rich lace berthe, and pearl orna- 
ments. Her red hair was oiled until its fiery hue had darkened 
into a becoming auburn, and the metallic polish of the French 
powder had effectually concealed the huge freckles which 
spotted her cheeks. 

Dropping a low courtesy, I requested her to come with me to 
the dining-room and inspect my work. With a smile, she fol- 
lowed, and upon examination, seemed well pleased. 

" Now, Ann, if you do well in officiating, it will be well for 
you ; but if you fail, if you make one mistake, you had better 
never been born, for," and she grasped me strongly by the 
shoulder, I will flay you alive ; you shall ache and smart in 
every limb and nerve." 

Terror-stricken at this threat, I made the most earnest 
promises to exert m}- very best energies. Yet her angry man- 
ner and threatening words so unnerved me, that I was not able 
to go on with the work in the same spirit in which I had begun, 
for we all know what a paralysis fear is to exertion. 

I stepped out on the balcony for some purpose, and there, 
standing at the end of the gallery, but partially concealed by 
the clematis blossoms, stood Miss Jane, and a tall gentleman 
was leaning over the railing talking very earnestly to her. In 
that uncertain light I could see the flash of her eye and the 
crimson glow of her cheek. She was twirling and tearing to 
pieces, petal by petal, a beautiful rose which she held in her 
hand. Here, I thought here is happiness ; this woman loves 
and is beloved. She has tasted of that one drop which sweetens* 
the whole cup of existence. Oh, what a thing it is to be free — 
free and independent, with power and privilege to go whither- 
soever you choose, with no cowardly fear, no dread of espionage, 
with the right to hold your head proudly aloft, and return 
glance for glance, not shrink and cower before the white man's 
look, as we poor slaves 7nust do. But not many moments could 



AUNT POLLY'S EXPERIENCE. 



39 



I thus spend in tliouglit, and well, perhaps, it was for me that 
duty broke short all such unavailing regrets. 

Hastening back to the dining-room, I gave another inquiring 
look at the table, fearful that some article had been omitted. 
Satisfying myself on this point, I moved on to the kitchen, 
where Aunt Polly was busy frying a chicken. 

Here, child/' she exclaimed, " look in thar at them biscuits. 
See is they done. Oh, that's prime, browning beautiful-like," 
she said, as I drew from the stove a pan of nice biscuits, '^and 
this ar' chicken is mighty nice. Oh, but it will make the young 
gemman smack his lips," and wiping the perspiration from her 
sooty brow, she drew a long breath, and seated herself upon a 
broken stool. 

Wal, this ar' nigger is tired. I's bin cooking now this 
twelve years, and never has I had ^ mission' to let my old man 
come to see me, or I to go see him." 

The children, with eyes wide open, gathered round Aunt 
Polly to hear a recital of her wrongs. " Laws-a-marcy, sights 
I's seen in my times, and often it 'pears like I's lost my senses. 
I tells you, yous only got to look at this ar' back to know what 
I's went through." Plereupon she exposed her back and arms, 
which were frightfully scarred. 

" This ar' scar," and she pointed to a very deep one on her 
left shoulder, " Masser gib me kase I cried when he sold my 
oldest son ; poor Jim, he was sent down the river, and I've 
never hearn from him^ since." She wiped a stray tear from her 
old eyes. 

Oh me ! 'tis long time since my eyes hab watered, and now 
these tears do feel so quare. Poor Jim is down the river, Johnny 
is dead, and Lucy is sold somewhar, so I have neither chick 
nor child. What's I got to live fur ?" 

This brought fresh to my mind recollections of my own 
mother's grief, when she was forced to give me up, and I could 
not restrain my tears. 

" What fur you crying, child ?'^ she asked. " It puts me in 
mind ov my^poor little Luce, she used to cry this way whenever 



40 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



anything happened to me. Oh^ many is the time she screamed 
if master struck me." 

** Poor Annt Polly," I said, as I walked np to her side, *' I do 
pity jon. I wiQ be kind to jou ; I'll be your daughter. 

She looked np with a wild stare, and with a deep earnestness 
seized hold of my ont-stretched hand ; then dropping it suddenly, 
she murmured, * 

" No, no, you ain't my darter, you comes to me with safi 
words, but you is jest like Liady and all the rest of 'em ; you'll go 
to the house and teU tales to the white folks on me. Xo, I'll not 
trust any of you." 

Springing suddenly into the room, with his eyes flaming, came 
Jones, and, cracking lus whip right and left, he struck each of 
the listening group. I retreated hastily to an extreme comer 
of the kitchen, where, imobserved by him, I could watch the 
a£Bray. 

" You devilish old wretch, Polly, what are you gabbling and 
Buubbling here about ? Up with your old hide, and git yer 
supper ready. Don't you know thar is company in the house 
and here he gave another sharp cut of the whip, which de- 
scended upon that poor old scarred back with a cruel force, and 
tore open old cicatriced wounds. The victim did not scream, 
nor shrink, nor murmur ; but her features resumed their wonted 
hard, encrusted expression, and, rising up from her seat, she 
went on with her usual work, ^ 

" Xow, cut like the wind," he added, as he flourished his whip 
in the direction of the young Hacks, who had been the interested 
auditors of Aunt Polly's hair-breadth escapes, and quick as 
lightning they were off to their respective quarters, whilst I 
proceeded to assist Aunt Polly in dishing up the supper 

"This chicken," said I, in a tone of encouragement, " is bean- 
tifolly cooked. How brown it is, and oh, what a delightful 
savory odor." 

*• I'll be bound the white folks will find fault wid it. Xobody 
ever did please Miss Jane. Her is got some of the most per- 
kuler notions 'bout cookin'. I knows she'll be kommin' out 



THE slave's SOLILOaUY. 



41 



here, makin' a fuss 'long wid me 'bout dis same supper," and 
the old woman shook her head knowingly. 

I made no reply, for I feared the re-appearance of Mr. Jones, 
and too often and too painfully had I felt the sting of his lash, 
to be guilty of any wanton provocation of its severity. 

Silently, but with bitter thoughts curdling my life-blood, did 
I arrange the steaming cookies upon the luxurious board, and 
then, with a deferential air, sought the parlor, and bade them 
walk out to tea. 

I found Miss Jane seated near a fine rosewood piano, and stand- 
ing beside her was a gentleman, the same whom I had observed 
with her upon the verandah. Miss Matilda was at the window, 
looking out upon the western heaven. 1 spoke in a soft tone, 
asking them, Please walk out to tea.'^ The young gentleman 
rose, and offered his arm to Miss Jane, which was graciously 
accepted, and Miss Matilda followed. I swung the dining-room 
door open with great pomp and ceremony, for I knew that any- 
thing showy or grand, either in the furniture of a house or the 
deportment of a servant, would be acceptable to Miss Jane. 
Fashion, or style, was the god of her worship, and she often de- 
clared that her principal objection to the negro, was his great 
want of style in thought and action. She was not deep enough 
to see, that, fathoms down below the surface, in all the crudity of 
ignorance, lay a stratum of this same style, so much vv^orshipped 
by herself. Does not the African, in his love of gaud, show, and 
tinsel, his odd and grotesque decorations of his person, exhibit a 
love of style ? But she was not philosopher enough to see that 
this was a symptom of the same taste, though ungarnished and 
semi-barbarous. 

The supper passed off very handsomely, so far as my part 
was concerned. I carried the cups round on a silver salver to 
each one ; served them with chicken, plied them with cakes, 
confections, &c., and interspersed my performance with innumer- 
able courtesies, bows and scrapes. 

"Ah," said Miss Jane to the gentleman, *'ah, Mr. Somerville, 
you have visited us at the wrong season ; you should be here 



42 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



later in the autumn, or earlier in the summer,'^ and slie gave one 
of her most benign smiles. 

" Any season is pleasant here/' replied Mr. Somerville, as he 
held the wing of a chicken between his thumb and fore-finger. 
Miss J ane simpered and looked down ; and Miss Matilda arched 
her brows and gave a significant side-long glance toward her 
sister. 

Here, you cussed yallow gal," cried Mr. Peterkin, in a rage, 
take this split spoon away and fetch me a fork what I ken 
use. These darned things is only made for grand folks," and 
he held the silver fork to me. Instantly I replaced it with a 
steel one. 

Now this looks something like. We only uses them ar' 
other ones when we has company, so I suppose, Mr. Somerville, 
the girl sot the table in this grand way bekase you is here." 

No thunder-cloud was ever darker than Miss Jane's brow. 
It gathered, and deepened, and darkened like a thick-coming 
tempest, whilst lightnings blazed from her eye. 

Father," and she spoke through her clenched teeth, what 
makes you afi'ect this horrid vulgarity ? and how can you be so 
very idiosyncratic' (this was a favorite word with her) as to 
say you never use them ? Ever since I can remember, silver 
forks have been used in our family ; but," and she smiled as she 
said it, " Mr. Somerville, father thinks it is truly a Kentucky 
fashion, and in keeping with the spirit of the early settlers, to 
rail out against fashion and style." 

To this explanation Mr. Somerville bowed blandly. Ah, 
yes, I do admire your father's honest independence." 

I'll jist tell you how it is, young man, my gals has bin . 
better edicated than their pappy, and they pertends to be mighty 
'shamed of me, bekase I has got no larnin' ; but I wants to ax 
'em one question, whar did the money kum from that give 'em 
thar larning?" and with a triumphant force he brought his hard 
fist down on the table, knocking off with his elbow a fine cut- 
glass tumbler, which was shivered to atoms. 

Thar now," he exclaimed, another piece of yer cussed 



TABLE TALK ITS CONSEQUENCE. 



43 



frippery is breaked to bits. What did you put it here fur? I 
wants that big tin-cup that I drinks out of when nobody's 
here." 

" Father, father," said Miss Matilda, who until now had kept 
an austere silence, why will you persist in this outrageous 
talk ? Why will you mortify and torture us in this cruel way 
and she burst into a flood of angry tears. 

Oh, don't blubber about it, Tildy, t didn't mean to hurt 
your feelin's.'^ 

Pretty soon after this, the peace of the table being broken up, 
the ladies and Mr. Somerville adjourned to the parlor, whilst 
Melinda, or Lindy, as she was called, and I set about clearing 
off the table, washing up the dishes, and gathering and counting 
over the forks and spoons. 

Now, though the young ladies made great pretensions to 
elegance and splendor of living, yet were they vastly economi- 
cal when there was no company present. The silver was all 
carefully laid away, and locked up in the lower drawer of an 
old-fashioned bureau, and the family appropriated a commoner 
article to their every-day use ; but let a solitary guest appear, 
and forthwith the napkins and silver would be displayed, and 
treated by the ladies as though it was quite a usual thing. 

Now, Ann,'' said 'Lindy " you wash the dishes, and I'll count 
the spoons and forks.'' 

To this I readily assented, for I was anxious to get clear of 
such a responsible office as counting and assorting the silver 
ware. 

Mr. Peterkin, or master, -as we called him, sat near by, smok- 
ing his cob-pipe in none the best humor ; for the recent encounter 
at the supper-table was by no means calculated to improve his 
temper. 

**See here, gals," he cried in a tone of thunder, "if thar be 
one silver spoon or fork missin', yer hides shall pay for the loss." 

" Laws, master, Pll be 'tickler enough," replied Lindy, as she 
smiled, more in terror than pleasure. 

" Wal " he said, half aloud, " whar is the use of my darters 



44 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



takin' on in the way they does ? Jist look at tlie sight o' money 
that has bin laid out in that ar' tom-foolery.'' 

This was a sort of soliloquy spoken in a tone audible enough 
to be distinct to us. 

He drew his cob-pipe from his mouth, and a huge volume of 
smoke curled round his head, and filled the room with the aroma 
of tobacco. 

" Now," he continued, " they does not treat me wid any per- 
liteness. They thinks they knows a power more than I does; 
but if they don't cut their cards square, 111 cut them short of a 
nigger or two, and make John all the richer by it.^^ 

Lindy cut her eye knowingly at this, and gave me rather a 
strong nudge with her elbow. 

Keep still thar, gals, and don't rattle them cups and sassers 
60 powerful hard." 

By this time Lindy had finished the assortment of the silver, 
and had carefully stowed it away in a willow-basket, ready to 
be delivered to Miss Jane, and thence consigned to the drawer, 
where it would remain in statu quo until the timely advent of 
another guest. 

" Xow," she said, ** I am ready to wipe the dishes, while you 
wash." 

Thereupon I handed her a saucer, which, in her carelessness, 
she let slip from her hand, and it fell upon the floor, and there, 
with great consternation, I beheld it lying, shattered to fragments. 
Mr. Peterkin sprang to his feet, glad of an excuse to vent his 
temper upon some one. 

Which of you cussed wretches did this ?" 

" 'Twas Ann, master ! She let it fall afore I got my hand on it. 

Ere I had time to vindicate myself from the charge, his iron 
arm felled me to the floor, and his hoof-like foot was placed upon 
my shrinking chest. 

" You d — n yallow hussy, does you think I buys such expen- 
sive chany-ware for you to break up in this ar^ way ? No, you 
'bominable wench, I'll have revenge out of your saflPer'n hide. 
Here, Lindy, fetch me that cowhide." 



THE APPEAL. 



45 



" Mercy, master, mercy," I cried, when lie had removed his 
foot from my breast, and my breath seemed to come again. Oh, 
listen to me ; it was not I who broke the saucer, it was only an 
accident ; but oh, in God's name, have mercy on me and Lindy." 

Yes, I'll tache you what marcy is. Here, quick, some of 
you darkies, bring me a rope and light. Pm goin' to take this 
gal to the whippin'-post.*' 

This overcame me, for, though I had often been cruelly beaten, 
yet had I escaped the odium of the " post and now for what I 
had not done, and for a thing which, at the worst, was but an 
accident, to bear the disgrace and the pain of a public whipping, 
seemed to me beyond endurance. I fell on my knees before 
him : 

Oh, master, please pardon me ; spare me this time. I have 
got a half-dollar that Master Edward gave me when you bought 
me, I will give you that to pay for the saucer, but please do not 
beat me." 

With a wild, fiendish grin, he caught me by the hair and 
swung me round until I half-fainted with pain. 

" No, you wretch, I'll git my satisfaction out of yer body yit, 
and I'll be bound, afore this night's work is done, yer yallow 
hide will be well marked." 

A deadly, cold sensation crept over me, and a feeling as of 
crawling adders seemed possessing my nerves. With all my 
soul pleading in my eyes I looked at Mr. Peterkin ; but one 
glance of his fiendish face made my soul quail with even a newer 
horror. I turned my gaze from him to Jones, but the red glare 
of a demon lighted up his frantic eye, and the words of a profane 
bravo were on his lips. From him I turned to poor, hardened, 
obdurate old Nace, but he seemed to be linked and leagued with 
my torturers. 

Oh, Lindy," I cried, as she came up with a bunch of cord 
in her hand, be kind, tell the truth, maybe master will forgive 
you. You are an older servant, better known and valued in the 
family. Oh, let your heart triumph. Speak the truth, and free 
me from the torture that awaits me. Oh, think of me, away off 



46 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP A FEMALE SLAVE. 



here, separated from mj mother, with no friend. Oh, pity me, 
and do acknowledge that you broke it." 

" Well, you is crazy, you knows dat I never touched de 
sacer," and she laughed heartily. 

Come along wid you all. Now fur fun," cried Xace. 

"Hold your old Jaw," said Jones, and he raised his whip. 
Nace cowered like a criminal, and made some polite speech to 
''Massa Jones," and Mr. Peterkin possessed himself of the rope 
which Lindy had brought. 

Now hold yer hands here," he said to me. 

For one moment I hesitated. I could not summon courage to 
offer my hands. It was the only resistance that I had ever 
dared to make. A severe blow from the overseer's riding-whip 
reminded me that I was still a slave, and dared have no will 
save that of my master. This blow, which struck the back of 
my head, laid me half-lifeless upon the floor. Whilst in this 
condition old Nace, at the command of his master, bound the 
rope tightly around my crossed arms and dragged me to the 
place of torment. 

The motion or exertion of being pulled along over the ground, 
restored me to full consciousness. With a haggard eye I looked 
up to the still blue heaven, where the holy stars yet held their 
silent vigil ; and the serene moon moved on in her starry track, 
never once heeding the dire cruelty, over which her pale beam 
shed its friendly light. Oh," thought I, " is there no mercy 
throned on high ? Are there no spirits in earth, air, or sky, to 
lend me their gracious influence ? Does God look down with 
kindness upon injustice like this ? Or, does He, too, curse me in 
my sorrow, and in His wrath turn away His glorious face from 
my supplication, and say * a servant of servants shalt thou be V " 
These wild, rebellious thoughts only crossed my mind ; they 
did not linger there. No, like the breath-stain upon the polished 
surface of the mirror, they only soiled for a moment the shining 
faith which in my soul reflected the perfect goodness of that God 
who never forgets the humblest of His children, and who makes 
no distinction of color or of race. The consoling promise, " He 



THE POWER OF FAITH. 



cliasteneth whom He loveth," flashed through my brain with its 
blessed assurance, and reconciled me to a heroic endurance. 
Far away I strained my gaze to the starry heaven, and I could 
almost fancy the sky breaking asunder and disclosing the won- 
drous splendors which were beheld by the rapt Apostle on the 
isle of Patmos! Oh, transfiguring power of faith! Thou hast 
a wand more potent than that of fsmcy, and a vision brighter 
than the dreams of enchantment ! What was it that reconciled 
me to the horrible tortures which were awaiting me ? Surely, 
'twas faith alone that sustained me. The present scene faded 
away from my vision, and, in fancy, I stood in the lonely garden 
of Gethsemane. I saw the darkness and gloom that over- 
shadowed the earth, when, deserted by His disciples, our blessed 
Lord prayed alone. I heard the sighs and groans that burst 
from his tortured breast. I saw the bloody sweat, as prostrate 
on the earth he lay in the tribulation of mortal agony. I saw 
the inhuman captors, headed by one of His chosen twelve, come 
to seize his sacred person. I saw his face uplifted to the mournful 
heavens, as He prayed to His Father to remove the cup of 
sorrow. I saw Him bound and led away to death, without a 
friend to solace Him. Through the various stages of His awful 
passion, even to the Mount of Crucifixion, to the bloody and 
sacred Calvary, I followed my Master. I saw Him nailed to 
the cross, spit upon, vilified and abused, with the thorny crown 
pressed upon His brow. I heard the rabble shout ; then I saw 
the solemn mystery of Nature, that did attestation to the awful 
fact that a fiendish work had been done and the prophecy ful- 
filled. The vail of the great temple was rent, the sun overcast, 
and the moon turned to blood ; and in my ecstas}^ of passion, I 
could have shouted, Great is Jesus of Nazareth ! ! Then I 
beheld Him triumphing over the powers of darkness and death, 
when, robed in the white garments of the grave, He broke 
through the rocky sepulchre, and stood before the aflPrighted 
guards. His work was done, the propitiation had been made, 
and He went to His Father. This same Jesus, whom the civil- 
ized world now worship as their Lord, was once lowly, outcast, 



48 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



and despised ; born of tlie most liated people of the world, be- 
longing to a race despised alike by Jew and Gentile ; laid in 
tlie manger of a stable at Bethlehem, with no earthly possessions, 
having not whereon to lay His weary head ; buffetted, spit 
upon ; condemned by the high priests and the doctors of law ; 
branded as an impostor, and put to an ignominious death, with 
every demonstration of public contempt ; crucified between two 
thieves ; this Jesus is worshipped now by those who wear purple 
and fine linen. The class which once scorned Him, now offer 
at His shrine frankincense and myrrh ; but, in their adoration 
of the despised Nazarene, they never remember that He has de- 
clared, not once, but many times, that the poor and the lowly 
are His people. " Forasmuch as you did it unto one of these 
you did it unto me." Then let the African trust and hope on — 
let him still weep and pray in Gethsemane, for a cloud hangs 
round about him, and when he prays for the removal of this 
cup of bondage, let him remember to ask, as his blessed Master 
did, Thy will, oh Father, and not our own, be done still 
trust in Him who calmed the raging tempest : trust iu Jesus of 
Nazareth ! Look beyond the cross, to Christ. 

These thoughts had power to cheer ; and, fortified by faith 
and religion, the trial seemed to me easy to bear. One prayer 
I murmured, and my soul said to my body, " pass under the 
rod and the cup which my Father has given me to drink 
must be drained, even to the dregs. 

In this state of mind, with a moveless eye I looked upon the 
whipping-post, which loomed up before me like an o^re. 

This was a quadri-lateral post, about eight feet in height, 
having iron clasps on two opposing sides, in which the wrists 
and ankles were tightly secured. 

"Now, Lindy,'' cried Jones, ''jerk off that gal's rigging, I am 
anxious to put some marks on her yellow skin." 

I knew that resistance was vain ; so I submitted to have my 
clothes torn from my body ; for modesty, so much commended 
in a white woman, is in a negro pronounced affectation. 



A CRUEL WHIPPING. 



49 



Jones drew down a huge cow-hide, which he dipped in a barrel 
of brine that stood near the post. 

I guess this will sting," he said, as he flourished the whip 
toward me. 

" Leave that thin slip on me, Lindy," I ventured to ask ; for 
I dreaded the exposure of my person ev-en more than the whip- 
ping. 

None of your cussed impedence ; strip off naked. What 
is a nigger's hide more than a hog's ?" cried Jones. Lindy and 
Nace tore the last article of clothing from my back. I felt my 
soul shiver and shudder at this ; but what could I do ? I could 
pray — thank God, I could pray ! 

I then submitted to have Nace clasp the iron cuffs around 
my hands and ankles, and there I stood, a revolting spectacle. 
With what misery I listened to obscene and ribald jests from 
my master and his overseer ! 

Xow, Jones," said Mr. Peterkin, I want to give that gal the 
first lick, which will lay the flesh open to the bone." 

" Well, Mr. Peterkin, here is the whip ; now you can lay on." 
Xo, confound your whip ; I wants that cow-hide, and here, 
let me dip it well into the brine. I want to give her a real good 
warmin' ; one that she'll -member for a long time." 

During this time I had remained motionless. My heart was 
lifted to God in silent prayer. Oh, shall I, can I, ever forget 
that scene ? There, in the saintly stillness of the summer night, 
where the deep, o'ershadowing heavens preached a sermon of 
peace, there I was loaded with contumely, bound hand and foot 
in irons, with jeering faces around, vulgar eyes glaring on my 
uncovered body, and two inhuman men about to lash me to the 
bone. 

The first lick from Mr. Peterkin laid my back open. I writhed, 
I wrestled ; but blow after blow descended, each harder than 
the preceding one. I shrieked, I screamed, I pleaded, I prayed, 
but there was no mercy shown me. Mr. Peterkin having fully 
gratified and quenched his spleen, turned to Mr. Jones, and 
said, Now is yer turn ; you can beat her as much as you 



.50 



AUTODIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE- 



please, only jist leave a bit o' life in her, is all I cares 
for." 

Yes ; I'll not spile lier for the market ; but I does want to 
take a little of the d d pride out of her." 

**Now, boys'* — for by this time all the slaves on the place, 
save Aunt Polly, had assembled round the post — " you will see 
what a true stroke I ken make ; but darn m}' buttons if I 
doesn't think Mr. Peterkin has drawn all the blood." 

So saying, Jones drew back the cow-hide at arm's length, 
and, making a few evolutions with his body, took what he called 

sure aim." I closed my eyes in terror. More from the ter- 
rible pain, than from the frantic shoutings of the crowd, I knew 
that Mr. Jones had given a lick that he called " true blue." 
The exultation of the negroes in Master Jones' triumph was 
scarcely audible to my ears; for a cold, clammy sensation was 
stealing over my frame ; my breath was growing feebler and 
feebler, and a soft melody, as of lulling summ.er fountains, was 
gently sounding in my ears ; and, as if gliding away on a moon- 
beam, I passed from all consciousness of pain. A sweet oblivion, 
like that sleep which announces to the wearied, fever-sick patient, 
that his hour of rest has come, fell upon me ! It w^as not a 
dreamful sensibility, filled with the chaos of fragmentary vis- 
ions, but a rest where the mind, nay, the very soul, seemed to 
sleep with the body. 

How long this stupor lasted I am unable to say ; but when 
I awoke, I was lying on a rough* bed, a face dark, haggard, 
scarred and worn, w^as bending over me. Disfigured as was that 
visage, it was pleasant to me, for it was human. I opened my 
eyes, then closed them languidly, re-opei^ed them, then closed 
them again. 

'* Now, chile, I thinks you is a leetle better," said the dark- 
faced w^oman, whom I recognized as Aunt Polly ; but I was 
too weak, too wandering in mind, to talk, and I closed my eyes 
and slept again. 



CHAPTEE YL 

RESTORED CONSCIOUSNESS — AUNT POLLY's ACCOUNT OF MY 

MIRACULOUS RETURN TO LIFE THE MASTER'S AFFRAY WITH 

THE OVERSEER. 

When I awoke (for I was afterwards told by my good nurse 
that I had slept four days), I was lying on the same rude bed; 
but a cool, clear sensation overspread my system. I had full 
and active possession of my mental faculties. I rose and sat 
upright in the bed, and looked around me. It was the deep 
hour of night. A little iron lamp v/as upon the hearth, and, 
for want of a supply of oil, the wick was burning low, flinging 
a red glare through the dismal room. Upon a broken stool sat 
Aunt Polly, her head resting. upon her breast, in what nurses 
call a stolen nap.'* Amy and three other children were sleep- 
ing in a bed opposite me. 

In a few moments I was able to recall the whole of the 
scenes through which I had passed, while consciousness re- 
mained ; and I raised my eyes to God in gratitude for my par- 
tial deliverance from pain and suffering. Very softly I stole 
from my bed, and, wrapping an old coverlet round my shoul- 
ders, opened the door, and looked out upon the clear, star-light 
night. Of the vague thoughts that passed through my mind I 
will not now speak, though they were far from pleasant or con- 
solatory. 

The fresh night air, which began to have a touch of the 
frost of the advancing autumn, blew cheerily in the room, and 
it fell with an awakening power upon the brow of Aunt Polly. 

Law, chile, is dat you stannin' in de dor ? What for you 
git up out en yer warm bed, and go stand in the night-ar ? 

Because I feel so well, and this pleasant air seems to brace 
my frame, and encourage my mind." 

[51] 



52 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



But sure you had better take to your bed again ; you hab 
bad a migbty bad time ob it/' 

How long bave I been sick ? It all seems to me like a 
horrible dream, from which I have been suddenly and pleas- 
antly aroused." 

As I said this, Aunt Polly drew me from the door, and clos- 
ing it, she bade me go to bed. 

iSo, indeed, I cannot sleep. I feel wide awake, and if I 
only had some one to talk to me, I could sit up all night." 

"Well, bress your heart, I'll talk wid you smack, till de 
rise ob day,'' she said, in such a kind, good-natured tone, that I 
was surprised, for I had regarded her only as an ill-natured, 
miserable beldame. 

Seating myself on a ricketty stool beside her, I prepared for 
a long conversation. 

Tell me what has happened since I have been sick ?" I 
said. " Where are Miss Jane and Matilda ? and where is the 
young gentleman who supped with them on that awful 
night V 

" Bress you, honey, but 'twas an awful night. Dis ole nig- 
ger will neber forget it long as she libs;'' and she bent her 
head upon her poor old worn hands, and by the pale, blue flick- 
er of the lamp, I could discern the rapidly-falliug tears. 

What," tliouglit I, and this hardened, wretched old wo- 
man can weep for me ! Her heart is not all ossified if she can 
forget her own bitter troubles, and weep for mine." 

This knowledge was painful, and yet joyful to me. Who of 
us can refuse sympathy ? Who does not want it, no matter at 
what costly price ] Does it not seem like dividing the burden, 
when we know that there is another who will weep for us ? 
I threw my arms round Aunt Polly. I tiglitly strained that 
decayed and revolting form to my breast, and I inly prayed 
that some young heart miglit thus rapturously go forth, in 
blessings to my mother. This evidence of affection did not 
surprise Aunt Polly, nor did she return my embrace ; but a 
deep, hollow sigh, burst from her full heart, and I knew that 



AUNT POLLY'S ACCOUNT. 



53 



memory was far away — that, in fancy, she was with her 
children, her loved and lost. 

Come, now," said I, soothingly, tell me all about it. How 
did I suffer ? What was done for me ? Where is master V 
and I shuddered, as I mentioned the name of my horrible per- 
secutor. 

" Oh, chile, when Masser J ones was done a-beatin' ob yer, 
dey all ob 'em tought you was dead ; den Masser got orful 
skeard. He cussed and swore, and shook his fist in de 
oberseer's face, and sed he had kilt you, and dat he was gwine 
to law wid him -'bout de 'struction ob his property. Den Masser 
Jones he swar a mighty heap, and tell Masser he dar' him to go 
to law 'bout it. Den Miss Jane and Tilda kum out, and com- 
menced cryin', and fell to 'busin' Masser Jones, kase Miss Jane 
say she want to go to de big town, and take you long wid her 
fur lady's maid. Den Mr. Jones fell to busen ob her, and den 
Masser and him clinched, and fought, and fought like two big 
black dogs. Den Masser Jones sticked his great big knife in 
Masser's side, and Masser fell down, and den we all tought he 
was clar gone. Den away Maser Jones did run, and nobody 
dared take arter him, for he had a loaded pistol and a big 
knife. Den we all on us, de men and wimmin folks both, grab- 
bed up Masser, and lifted him in de house, and put him on 
de bed. Den Jake, he started off fur de doctor, while Miss 
Jane and Tilda 'gan to fix Masser's cut side. Law, bress your 
heart, but thar he laid wid his big form stretched out just as 
helpless as a baby. His face was as white as a ghost, and his 
eyes shot right tight up. Law bress you, but 1 tought his time 
hab kum den. Well, Lindy and de oder wimmin was a helpin' 
ob Miss Jane and Tildy, so I jist tought I would go and look 
arter yer body. Thar you was, still tied to de post, all kivered 
with blood. I was mighty 'feared ob you ; but den I tought 
you had been so perlite, and speaked so kind to me^ dat I 
would take kare ob yer body ; so I tuck you down, and went 
wid you to de horse-trough, and dere I poured some cold 
water ober yer, so as to wash away de clotted blood. Den de 



54 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



cold water sorter Vived you, and yer cried out ^oli, me !' Wal 
dat did skeer me, and I let you drap right down in de trough, 
and de way dis nigger did run, fur de life ob lier. Well, as I 
git back I met Jake, who had kum back wid de doctor, and I 
cried out, * Oh Jake, de spirit ob Ann done speaked to me!' 
* Now, Polly,' says he, * do hush your nonsense, you does 
know dat Ann is done cold dead.' * Well Jake,' says I. ' I tuck 
her down frum de post, and tuck her to the trough to wash her, 
and tought I'd fix de body out right nice, in de best close dat 
she had. Well, jist as I got de water on it, somping hollowed 
out, ^oh me !' so mournful like, dat it 'peared to- me it kum out 
ob de ground. 

* What fur den you do V says Jake. 'Why, to be sure, I lef 
it right dar, and run as fas' as my feet would carry me.' 

By dis time de house was full ob de neighbors ; all hab col- 
lected in de house, fur de news dat Masser was kilt jist fly 
trough de neighborhood. Miss Bradly hearn in de house 'bout 
de 'raculous 'pearance ob de sperit, and she kum up to me, and 
say * Polly, whar is de body of Ann V * Laws, Miss Bradly, it 
is out in de trough, I won't go agin nigh to it.^ 

" ' Well,' say she, * where is Jake ? let him kum along wid me.' 
" * What, you ain't gwine nigh it V I asked. 

'Yes I is gwine riglit up to it,' she say, ' kase I knows thar 
is life in it.' Well this sorter holpd me up, so I said, * well 111 
go too.' So we tuck Jake, and Miss Bradly walked long wid 
us to de beny spot, and dar you wus a settin up in de water ob 
de trough where I seed you ; it skeered me worse den eber, so 
I fell right down on de gi'ound, and began to pray to de Lord to 
hab marcy on us all; but Miss Bradly (she is a quare woman) 
walked right up to you, and spoke to you. 

" 'Laws,' says Jake, *jist hear dat ar woman talking wid a 
sperit,' and down he fell, and went to callin on de Angel Ga- 
briel to kum and holp him. 

Fust ting I knowed, Miss Bradly was a rollin' her sliawl round 
yer body, and axed you to walk out ob de trough. 

Well, tinks I, dese am quare times when a stone-dead nigger 



MY SWOON AND RECOVERY. 



55 



gits up and walks agin like a live one. Well, widout any help 
from us, Miss Bradly led you 'long into dis cabin. I followed 
arter. After while she kind o' 'suaded me you was a livin'. Den 
I helped her wash you, and got her some goose-greese, and we 
rubbed you all ober, from your head to yer feet, and den you 
kind ob fainted away, and I began to run off ; but Miss Bradly 
say you only swoon, and she tuck a little glass vial out ob her 
pocket, and held it to yer nose, and dis bring you to agin^ 
After while you fell off to sleep, and Miss Bradly bringed de 
Doctor out ob de house to look at you. Well, he feel ob yer 
wrist, put his ear down to yer breast, den say, ^ may be wid 
care she will git well, but she hab been powerful bad treated.' 
He shuck his head, and I knowed what he was tinkin' 'bout, but 
I neber say one word. Den Miss Bradly wiped her eyes, and 
de Doctor fetch anoder sigh, and say, dis is very 'stressing,' 
and Miss Bradly say somepin agin * slavery,' and de Doctor 
open ob his eyes right wide and say, ' 'tis worth your head, Miss, 
for to say dat in dis here country.' Den she kind of 'splained 
it to him, and tings just seemed square 'twixt 'em, for she was 
monstrous skeered like, and turned white as a sheet. Den I 
hearn de Doctor say sompin' 'bout ridin' on a rail, and tar and 
feaders, and abolutionist. So arter dat. Miss Bradly went into 
de house, arter ^he had bin a tellin' ob me to nurse you well ; 
dat you was way off hare from yer mammy, so eber sence den 
you has bin a lying right dar on dat bed, and I hab nursed you 
as if you war my own child." 

I threw my arms around her again, and imprinted kisses upon 
her rugged brow ; for, though her skin was sooty and her face 
worn with care, I believed that somewhere in a silent corner of 
her tried heart there was a ray of warm, loving, human feeling. 

Oh, child," she begun, can you wid yer pretty yallov/ face 
kiss an old pitch-black nigger like me?" 

" Why, yes, Aunt Polly, and love you too ; if your face is dark 
I am sure your heart is fair." 

" Well, I doesn't know 'bout dat, chile ; once 'twas far, but I 
link all de white man done made it black as my face." 



56 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



''Oh no, I can't believe that, Aunt Polly," I replied. 
Wal, I always hab said dat if dey would cut my finger and 
cut a white woman's, dey would find de blood ob de very same 
color," and the old woman laughed exultingly. 

"Yes, but, Aunt Polly, if you were to go before a magistrate 
with a case to be decided, he would give it against you, no 
matter how just were your claims." 

To be sartin, de white folks allers gwine to do every ting in 
favor ob dar own color." 

" But, Aunt Polly," interposed I, ** there is a God above, who 
disregards color." 

Sure dare is, and dar we will all ob us git our dues, and 
den de white folks will roast in de flames ob old Xick." 

I saw, from a furtive flash of ber eye, that all the malignity 
and revenge of her outraged nature were becoming excited, and 
I endeavored to change the conversation. 
Is master getting well ?" 

Why, yes, chile, de debbil can't kill him. He is 'termined 
to live jist as long as dare is a nigger to torment. All de time 
he was crazy wid de fever, he was fightin' wid de niggers — 
'pears like he don't dream 'bout nothin' else." 

Does he sit up now ?"" 1 asked this question with trepida- 
tion, for I really dreaded to see him. 

^0, he can't set up none. De doctor say he lost a power o' 
blood, and he won't let him eat meat or anyting strong, and I 
tells you, honey, Masser does swar a heap. He wants to 
smoke his pipe, and to hab his reglar grog, and dey won't gib it 
to him. It do take Jim and Jake bofe to hold him in de bed, 
when his tantarums comes on. He fights dem, he calls for de 
oberseer, he orders dat ebery nigger on de place shall be tuck 
to de post. I tells you now, I makes haste to git out ob his 
way. He struck Jake a lick dat kum mighty nigh puttin' out 
his eye. It's all bunged up now." 

" Where did Mr. Somerville go ?" I asked. 

" Oh, de young gemman dat dey say is a courtin' Miss Jane, 
he hab gone back to de big town what he kum from ; but Lindy 



A NEW FEAR. 



57 



say Miss Jane got a great long letter from liim, and Lindy say 
she tink Miss Jane gwine to marry him.'^ 

" Well, I belong to Miss Jane ; I wonder if slie will take me 
with her to the town.'* 

a Why, yes, chile, she will, for she do believe in niggers. 
She wants *em all de time right by her side, a waitin' on her.'' 

This thought set me to speculating. Here, then, was the 
prospect of another change in my home. The change might 
be auspicious ; but it would take me away from Aunt Polly, 
and remove me from Miss Bradly's influence ; and this I 
dreaded, for she had planted hopes in my breast, which must 
blossom, though at a distant season, and I wished to be often 
in her company, so that I might gain many important items 
from her. 

Aunt Polly, observing me unusually thoughtful, argued that 
I was sleepy, and insisted upon my returning to bed. In 
order to avoid further conversation, and preserve, unbroken, 
the thread of my reflections, I obeyed her. 

Throwing myself carelessly upon the rough pallet, I wan- 
dered in fancy until leaden-winged sleep overcame me. 



CHAPTEE VII. 



AMY^S NARRATIVE, AND HER PHILOSOPHY OF A FUTURE STATE. 

When the golden sun had begun to tinge with light the dis- 
tant tree-tops, and the young birds to chant their matin hymn, 
I awoke from my profound sleep. Wearily I moved upon my 
pillow, for though my slumber had been deep and sweet, yet 
now, upon awaking, I experienced no refreshment. 

Eising up in the bed, and supporting myself upon my elbow. 
I looked round in quest of Aunt Polly ; but then I remembered 
that she had to be about the breakfast. Amy was sitting on 
the floor, endeavoring to arrange the clothes on a little toddler, 
her orphan brother, over whom she exercised a sort of ma- 
ternal care. She, her two sisters, and infant brother, were the 
orphans of a woman who had once belonged to a brother of 
Mr. Peterkin. Their orphanage had not fallen upon them from 
the ghastly fingers of death, but from the far more cruel and 
cold mandate of human cupidity. A fair, even liberal price 
had been offered their owner for their mother, Dilsy, and such 
a speculation was not to be resigned upon the score of philan- 
thropy. No, the man who would refuse nine hundred dollars 
for a negro woman, upon the plea that she had three young 
children and a helpless infant, from whom she must not be sepa- 
rated, would, in Kentucky, be pronounced insane ; and I can 
assure you that, on this subject, the brave Kentuckians had 
good right to decide, according to their code, that Elijah Peter- 
kin was compos mentis. 

" Amy," said I, as I rubbed my eyes, to dissipate the film 
and mists of sleep, " is it very late ] have you heard the horn 
blow for the hands to come in from work'?" 

[58] 



TALK WITH AMY. 



59 



**No, me Lab not hearn it yet, but laws, Ann, me did tink 
you would neber talk no more." 

" But you see I am talking now," and 1 could not resist a 
smile ; " have you been nursing me ?" 

" No, mdeed. Aunt Polly wouldn't let me come nigh yer 
bed, and she keep all de time washing your body and den rub- 
bin' it wid a feader an' goose-greese. Oh, you did lay here so 
still, jist like somebody dead. Aunt Polly, she wouldn't let one 
ob us speak one word, sed it would ^sturb you ; but I knowed 
you wasn't gwine to kere, so ebery time she went out, I jist 
laughed and talked as much as I want." 

" But did you not want me to get well, Amy ?" 

" Why, sartin I did ; but my laughin' want gwine to kill you. 
was it ?" She looked up with a queer, roguish smile. 
No, but it might have increased my fever." 
Well, if you had died, I would hab got yer close, now you 
knows you promised 'em to me. So when I hearn Jake say 
you was dead, I run and got yer new calico dress, and dat rib- 
bon what Miss Jane gib you, an' put dem in my box ; den arter 
while Aunt Polly say you done kum back to life ; so I neber 
say notin' more, I jist tuck de close and put dem back in yer 
box, and tink to myself, well, maybe I will git 'em some oder 
time." 

It amused me not a little to find that upon mere suspicion of 
my demise, this little negro had levied upon my wardrobe, which 
w^as scanty indeed ; but so it is, be we ever so humble or 
poor, there is always some one to regard us with a covetous 
eye. My little paraphernalia was, to this half-savage child, a 
rich and wondrous possession. 

" Here, hold up yer foot, Ben, or you shan't hab any meat 
fur breakus." This threat was addressed to her young brother, 
whom she nursed like a baby, and v/hose tiny foot seemed to 
resist the restraint of a shoe. 

I looked long at them, and mused with a strange sorrow upon 
their probable destiny. Bitter I knew it must be. For, where 
ij? there, beneath the broad sweep of the majestic heavens, a 



60 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



single one of the dnskv tribe of Ethiopia who has not felt that 
existence was to him far more a curse than a blessing ? You, 
oh, mj tawny brothers, who read these tear-stained pages, ask 
your own hearts, which, perhaps, now ache almost to burstings 
ask, I say, your own vnlture-torn hearts, if life is not a hard, 
hard burden ? Have you not oftentimes prayed to the All- 
Merciful to sever the mystic tie that bound you here, to loosen 
your chains and set you, soul and body, free ? Have you not, 
from the broken chinks of your lonely cabins at night, looked 
forth upon the free heavens, and murmured at your fate ? Is 
there, oh ! slave, in your heart a single pleasant memory ? Do 
yon not, captive-husband, recollect with choking pride how the 
wife of your bosom has been cruelly lashed while you dared not 
say one word in her defence ? Have you not seen your chil- 
dren, precious pledges of undying love, ruthlessly torn from you, 
bound hand and foot and sold like dogs in the slave market, 
while you dared not offer a single remonstrance ? Has not 
every social and moral feeling been outraged ? Is it not the 
white man*s policy to degrade your race, thereby finding an 
argument to favor the perpetuation of Slavery ? Is there for 
us one thing to sweeten bondage ? Free African ! in the brave 
old States of the Xorth, where the shackles of slavery exist 
not, to you I call. Xoble defenders of Abolition, you whose 
earnest eyes may scan these pages, I call to you with a tearful 
voice ; I pray 3'ou to go on in your glorious cause ; flag not, 
faint not, prosecute it before heaven and against man. Fling out 
your banners and march on to the defence of the suffering ones 
at the South. And you, oh my heart-broken sisters, toiling be- 
neath a tropic sun, wearing out your lives in the service of 
tyrants, to you I say, hope and pray still ! Trust in God ! 
He is mighty and willing to save, and, in an hour that you 
know not of, he will roll the stone away from the portal of 
your hearts. My prayers are with you and for you. I have 
come up from the same tribulation, and I vow, by the scars and 
wounds upon my flesh, never to forget your cause. Would that 



amy's mother. 



61 



my tears, wliicli freely flow for you, had power to dissolve the 
fetters of yonr wasting bondage. 

Thoughts like these, though with more vagueness and less 
form, passed through my brain as I looked upon those poor 
little outcast children, and I must be excused for thus making, 
regardless of the usual etiquette of authors, an appeal to the 
hearts of my free friends. Never once do I wish them to lose 
sight of the noble cause to which they have lent the influence 
of their names. I am but a poor, unlearned woman, whose 
heart is in her cause, and I should be untrue to the motive 
which induced me to chronicle the dark passages in my woe- 
worn life if I did not urge and importune the Apostles of Abo- 
lition to move forward and onward in their m.arch of reform. 
Come, Amy, near to my bed, and talk a little with me.'* 
I wants to git some bread fust.'' 

"You are always hungry,'' I pettishly replied. 

"No, I isn't, but den, Ann, I neber does git enuf to eat here. 
Now, we use to hab more at Mas' Lijah's." 
Was he a good master ?" I asked. 

" No, he wasn't ; but den mammy used to gib us nice tings 
to eat. She buyed it from de store, and she let us hab plenty 
ob it." 

" Where is your mammy ?-' 
She bin sold down de ribber to a trader," and there was a 
quiver in the child's voice. 

" Did she want to go ?" I inquired. 

" No, she cried a heap, and tell Masser she wouldn't mind it 
if he would let her take us chilen ; but Masser say no, he 
wouldn't. Den she axed him please to let her hab little Ben, 
any how. Masser cussed, and said. Well, she might hab Ben, 
as he was too little to be ob any sarvice ; den she 'peared so 
glad and got him all ready to take ; but when de trader kum to 
take her away, he say he wouldn't 'low her to take Ben, kase 
he couldn't sell her fur as much, if she hab a baby wid her ; 
den, oh den, how poor mammy did cry and beg ; but de trader 
tuck his cowhide and whipped her so hard she hab to stop cryin' 



62 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



or beggin'. Den she knm to me and make me promise to take 
good care ob Ben, to nurse him and tend on bim as long as I 
staid whar be was. Den sbe knelt down in de corner of her 
cabin and prayed to Grod to take care ob ns, all de days of our 
life ; den she kissed us all and squeezed us tight, and when she 
tuck little Ben in her arms it 'peared like her heart would 
break. De water from her eyes wet Ben's apron right ringing 
wet, jist like it had come out ob a washing tub. Den de trader 
called to her to come along, and den she gib dis to me, and told 
me dat ebery time I looked at it, I must tink of my poor mam- 
my dat was sold down de ribber, and 'member my promise to 
her 'bout my little brudder." 

Here the child exhibited a bored five-cent piece, which she 
wore suspended by a black string around her neck. 

" De chilen has tried many times to git it away frum me ; but 
I's allers beat 'em off ; and whenever Miss Tildy wants me fur 
to mind her, she says, * Now, Amy, I'll jist take yer mammy's 
present from yer if yer doesn't do what I bids yer;' den de way 
dis here chile does work isn't slow, I ken tell yer," and with 
her characteristic gesture she run her tongue out at the corner 
of her mouth in an oblique manner, and suddenly withdrew it, 
as though it had passed over a scathing iron. 

" Could anything induce you to part with it I asked. 

She rolled her eyes up with a look of wonderment, and 
replied, half ferociously, " Gracious ! no — why, hasn't I bin 
whipped, 'bused and treed ; still I'd hold fast to this. Xo mor- 
tal ken take it frum me. You may kill me in welcome," and 
the child shook her head with a philosophical air, as she said, 
and I don't kere much, so mammy's chilen dies along wid me, 
fur I didn't see no use in our livin' eny how. I's done got my 
full shere ob beatin' an' we haint no use on dis here airth — so I 
jist wants fur to die." 

I looked upon her, so uncared for, so forlorn in her condition, 
and I could not find it in my heart to blame her for the wish, 
erring and rebellious as it must appear to the Christian. What 
had she to live for ? To those little children, the sacred bequests 



amy's idea of HEAVENi 



03 



of her mother, she was no protection ; for, even had she been 
capable of extending to them all the guidance and watchfulness, 
both of soul and body, which their delicate and immature na- 
tures required, there was every probability, nay, there was a 
certainty, that this duty wouki be denied her. She could not 
hope, at best, to live with them more than a few years. They 
were but cattle, chattels, property, subject to the will and pleas- 
ure of their owners. There would speedily come a time when 
a division must take place in the estate, and that division w^ould 
necessarily cause a separation and rupture of family ties. What 
wonder then, that this poor ignorant child sighed for the calm, 
unfearing, unbroken rest of the grave ? She dreamed not of a 

more beyond she thought her soul mortal, even as her body; 
and had she been told that there was for her a world, even a 
blessed one, to succeed death, she would have shuddered and 
feared to cross the threshold of the grave. She thought anni- 
hilation the greatest, the only blessing awaiting her. The 
idea of another life would have brought with it visions of a 
new master and protracted slavery. Freedom and equality of 
souls, irrespective of color, was too transcendental and chimerical 
an idea to take root in her practical brain. Many times had 
she heard her master declare that " niggers were jist like dogs, 
laid down and died, and nothin* come of them afterwards." 
His philosophy could have proposed nothing more delightful to 
her ease-coveting mind. 

Some weeks afterwards, when I was trying to teach her the 
doctrine of the immortality of the soul, she broke forth in an 
idiotic laugh, as she said, oh, no, dat gold city what dey sings 
'bout in hymns, w^ill do fur de white folks ; but nothin' eber 
comes of niggers ; dey jist dies and rots.^' 

Who do you think made negroes ?" I inquired. 

Looking up with a meaning grin, she said, White folks 
made 'em fur der own use, I 'spect." 
Why do you think that 

Kase white folks ken kill 'em when dey pleases ; so I 'spose 
dey make 'em." 



64 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



This was a species of reasoning which, for a moment, con- 
founded my logic. Seeing that I lacked a ready reply, she 
went on : 

" Yes, you see, Ann, we hab no use wid a soul. De white 
folks won't hab any work to hab done up dere, and so dey 
won't hab no use fur niggers." 

" Doesn't this make you miserable ?" 

What she asked, with amazement. 
" This thought of dying, and rotting like the vilest worm." 
Xo, indeed, it makes me glad ; fur den I'll not hab anybody 
to beat me ; knock, kick, and cuff me 'bout, like dey does now." 

Poor child, happier far," I thought, in your ignorance, 
than I, with all the weight of fearful responsibility that my 
little knowledge entails upon me. On you, God will look with 
a more pitying eye than upon me, to whom he has delegated 
the stewardship of two talents." 



CHAPTER VIII. 

TALK AT THE FARM-HOUSE — THREATS — THE NEW BEAU LINDY. 

Several days had elapsed since the morning conyersation 
with Amy ; meanwhile matters were jogging along in their 
usually dull way. Of late, since the flight of Mr. Jones, and 
the illness of Mr. Peterkin, there had been considerably less 
fighting; but the ladies made innumerable threats of w^hat they 
would do, when their father should be well enough to allow a 
suspension of nursing duties. 

My wounds had rapidly healed, and I had resumed my former 
position in the discharge of household duties. Lindy, my old 
assistant, still held her place. I always had an aversion to her. 
There was that about h^r entire physique which made her 
odious to me. A certain laxity of the muscles and joints of 
her frame, which produced a floundering, shuffling sort of gait 
that was peculiarly disagreeable, a narrow, soulless countenance, 
an oblique leer of the eye where an ambushed fiend seemed to 
lurk, full, voluptuous lips, lengthy chin, and expanded nostril, 
combined to prove her very low in the scale of animals. She 
had a kind of dare-devil courage, which seemed to brave a great 
deal, and yet she shrank from everything like punishment. 
There was a union of degrading passions in her character. I 
doubt if the lowest realm of hades contained a baser spirit. 
This girl, I felt assured from the first time I beheld her, was 
destined to be my evil genius. I felt that the baleful comet 
that presided over her birth, would in his reckless and madden- 
ing course, rush too near the little star which, through cloud, 
and shadow, beamed on my destiny. 

She was not without a certain kind of sprightliness that passed 
for intelligence ; and she could by her adroitness of manoeuvre 

[65] 



66 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



amble out of any difficulty. Witli a good education she Avould 
have made an excellent female pettifogger. She had all of the 
quickness and diablerie usually summed up in that most ex- 
pressive American word, smartness P 

I was a good deal vexed and grieved to find myself again a 
partner of hers in the discharge of my duties. It seemed to 
open my wounds afresh ; for I remembered that her falsehood 
had gained me the severe casti^ation that had almost deprived 
me of life ; and her laugh and jibe had rendered my suffering 
at the accursed post even more humiliating. Yet I knew better 
than to offer a demurrer to any arrangement that my mistress 
had made. 

One day as I was preparing to set the table for the noon 
meal, Lindy came to me and whispered, in an under-toue, ''You 
finish the table, I am going out ; and if Miss Jane or Tildy axes 
where I is, say dat I went to de kitchen to wash a dish.'* 

Very well," I replied in my usual laconic style, and went 
on about my work. It was well for her that she had observed 
this precaution ; for in a few moments Miss Tildy came in, and 
lier first question was for Lindy. I answered as I had been 
desired to do. The reply appeared to satisfy her, and with the 
injunction (one she never failed to give), that I should do my 
work well and briskly, she left the room. 

After I had arranged the table to my satisfaction: I went to 
the kitchen to assist Aunt Polly in dishing up dinner. 

When I reached the kitchen I found Aunt Polly in a great 
quandary. The fire was not brisk enough to brown her bread, 
and she dared not send it to the table without its being as 
beautifully brown as a student's meditations. 

Oh, child," she began, " do run somewhar* and git me a 
scrap or so of dry wood, so as to raise a smart little blaze to 
brown dis bread." 

Indeed I will," and off I bounded in quest of the combus- 
tible material. Of late Aunt Polly and I had become as 
devoted as mother and child. 'Tis true there was a deep yearn- 
ing in my heart, a thirst for intercommunion of soul, which this 



THE NEW FRIEND. 



67 



untutored negress could not supply. She did not answer, 
with a thrilling response, to the deep cry w4iich my spirit sent 
out; yet she was kind, and even affectionate, to me. Usually 
harsh to others, with me she was gentle as a lamb. With a 
thousand little motherly acts she won my heart, and I strove, 
by assiduous kindness, to make her forget that I was not her 
daughter. I started off with great alacrity in search of the dry 
wood, and remembered that on the day previous I had seen 
som.e barrel staves lying near an out-house, and these I knew 
would quickly ignite. When rapidly turning the corner of 
the stable, I was surprised to see Lindy standing in close and 
apparently free conversation with a strange-looking white man. 
The sound of my rapid footsteps startled them ; and upon 
seeing me, the man walked off hastily. With a fluttering, ex- 
cited manner, Lindy came up and said : 

" Don't say nothing 'bout haven' seed me wid dat ar' gem- 
man ; fur he used to be my mars'er, and a good one he was 
too.'' 

I promised that I would say nothing about the matter, but 
first I inquired what was the nature of the private interview. 

" Oh, he jist wanted fur to see me, and know how I was 
gitten' long. 

I said no more ; but I was not satisfied with her explanation. 
I resolved to watch her narrowly, and ferret out, if possible, this 
seeming mystery. Upon my return to the kitchen, with my 
bundle of dry sticks, I related what I had seen to Aunt Polly. 

*' Dat gal is arter sompen not very good, you mark my words 
fur it." 

" Oh, maybe not. Aunt Polly," I answered, though with a 
conviction that I was speaking at variance with the strong prob- 
abilities of the case. 

I hurried in the viands and meats for the table, and was not 
surprised to find Lindy unusually obliging, for I understood the 
object. There was an abashed air and manner which argued 
guilt, or at least, that she was the mistress of a secret, for the 
entire possession of which she trembled. Sundry little acts of 



63 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



unaccustomed kindness she offered me. but I quietly declined 
them. I did not desire that she should insult my honor by the 
offer of a tacit bribe. 

In the evening, when I was arranging Miss Jane's hair (this 
was my especial duty), she surprised me by asking, in a care- 
less and incautious manner : 

Ann, what is the matter with Lindy ? she has such an ex- 
cited manner." 

I really don't know. Miss Jane ; I have not observed any- 
thing very unusual in her/^ 

Well, I have, and I shall speak to her about it. Oh, there ! 
slow, girl, slow ; you pulled my hair. Don't do it again. You 
niggers have become so unruly since pa's sickness, that if we 
don't soon get another overseer, there will be no living for you. 
There is Lindy in the sulks, simply because she wants a whip- 
j)ing, and old Polly hasn't given us a meal fit to eat.'' 

Have I done anything, Miss Jane?" I asked with a mis- 
giving. 

**Xo, nothing in particular, except showing a general and 
continued sullenness. Now, I do despise to see a nigger always 
sour-looking ; and I can tell you, Ann, you must change your 
ways, or it will be worse for yon." 

" I try to be cheerful, Miss Jane, but — " here I wisely checked 
myself." 

Try to he'' she echoed with a satirical tone. ^* What do 
you mean by trying ? You don't dare to say you are not happy 
herer 

Finding that I made no reply, she said, ''If you don't cut 
your cards squarely, you will find yourself down the river 
before long, and there you are only half-clad and half-fed, and 
flogged every day." Still I made no reply. I knew that if T 
spoke truthfully, and as m.y heart prompted, it would only 
redound to my misery. What right had I to speak of my 
mother. She was no more than an animal, and as destitute of 
the refinement of common human feeling — so I forbore to allude 
to her, or my great desire to see her. I dared not speak of the 



SILENT COMPLAINTS. 



69 



horrible manner in whicla my body had been cut and slashed, 
the half-lifeless condition in which I had been taken from the 
accursed post, and all for a fault which was not mine. These 
were things which, as they were done by my master's com- 
mands, were nothing more than right ; so with an effort, I con- 
trolled my emotion, and checked the big tears which I felt 
were rushing up to my eyes. 

When I had put the finishing stroke to Miss J ane's hair, and 
whilst she was surveying herself in a large French mirror, 
Miss Bradly came in. Tossing her bonnet off, she kissed Miss 
Jane very affectionately, nodded to me, and asked, 
Where is Tildy V ^ 

I don't know, somewhere about the house, I suppose," re- 
plied Miss Jane. 

" Well, I have a new beau for her ; now it will be a fine 
chance for Tildy. I would have recommended you ; but, 
knowing of your previous engagement, I thought it best to refer 
him to the fair Matilda." 

Miss Jane laughed, and answered, that though she was en- 
gaged, she would have no objections to trying her charms upon 
another beau." 

There was a strange expression upon Miss Bradly's face, and 
a flurried, excited manner, very different from her usually quiet 
demeanor. 

Miss Jane went about the room collecting, here and there, a 
stray pocket handkerchief, under-sleeve, or chemisette ; andi 
dashing them toward me, she said, 

" Put these in wash, and do, pray, Ann, try to look more 
cheerful. Now, Miss Emily," she added, addressing Miss Bradly, 

we have the worst servants in the Avorld. There is Lindy, I 
believe the d — 1 is in her. She is so strange in her actions. I 
have to repeat a thing three or four times before she will under- 
stand me ; and, as for Ann, she looks so sullen that it gives 
one the horrors to see her. I've a notion to bring Amy into 
the house. In the kitchen she is of no earthly service, and 
doesn't earn her salt. I think I'll persuade pa to sell some of 



70 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



these wortliless niggers. They are no profit, and a terrible ex- 
pense." Thereupon she was interrupted by the entrance of 
Miss Tildy, whose face was unusually excited. She did not 
perceive Miss Bradly, and so broke forth in a torrent of invec- 
tives against niggers.'^ 

" I hate them. I wish this place were rid of every black 
face. Xow we can't find that wretched Lindy anywhere, high 
nor low. Let me once get hold of her, and I'll be bound she 
shall remember it to the day of her death. Oh ! Miss Bradly, 
is that you ? pray excuse me for not recognizing you sooner ; 
but since pa's sickness, these wretched negroes have half-taken 
the place, and I shouldn't be surprised if I were to forget my- 
self," and with a kiss she seem>ed to think she had atoned to 
Miss Bradly for her forgetfulness. 

To all of this Miss B. made no reply, I fancied (perhaps it 
was only fancy) that there was a shade of discontent upon her 
face ; but she still preserved her silence, and Miss Tildy waxed 
warmer and warmer in her denunciation of ungrateful nig- 
gers." 

" Now, here, ours have every wish gratified ; are treated well, 
fed well, clothed well, and yet we can't get work enough out 
of them to justify us in retaining our present number. As soon 
as pa gets well I intend to urge upon him the necessity of sell- 
ing some of them. It is really too outrageous for us to be keep- 
ing such a number of the worthless wretches ; actually eating 
us out of house and home. Besides, our family expenses are 
rapidly increasing. Brother must be sent off to college, it 
will not do to have his education neglected. I really am be- 
coming quite ashamed of his want of preparation for a profes- 
sion. I wish him sent to Yale, after first receiving a prepara- 
tory course in some less noted seminary, — then he will require 
a handsome outfit of books, and a wardrobe inferior to none at 
the institution ; for. Miss Emily, I am determined our family 
shall have a position in every circle." As Miss Tikly pronounced 
these words, she stamped her f^ot in the most emphatic way, as 
if to confirm and ratify her determination. 



THE EXPENSE OF SLAVES. 



71 



Yes," said Miss Jane, I was just teH'mg Miss Emily of 
onr plans ; and I think we may as well bi ing Amy in the 
house. She is of no account in the kitchen, and Lindy, Ginsy, 
and those brats, can be sold for a very pretty sum if taken to 

the city of L , and put upon the block, or disposed of to 

some wealthy trader. 

^' What children?" asked Miss Bradly. 

" Why, Amy's two sisters and brother, and Ginsy's child, 
and Ginsy too, if pa will let her go." 

My heart ached well-nigh to bursting, Avhen I heard this. 
Poor, poor Amy, child-sulferer ! another drop of gall added to 
thy draught of wormwood — another thorn added to thy wear- 
ing crown. Oh, God ! how I shuddered for the victim. 

Miss Jane went on in her usual heartless tone. It is ex- 
pensive to keep them ; they are no account, no profit to us ; and 
young niggers are my 'special aversion. I have, for a long 
time, intended separating Amy from her two little sisters ; she 
doesn't do anything but nurse that sickly child, Ben, and it is 
scandalous. You see. Miss Emily, we want an arbor erected 
in the yard, and a conservatory, and some new-style table 
furniture." 

" Yes, and I want a set of jewels, and a good many addi- 
tions to my wardrobe, and Jane wishes to spend a winter in 
the city. She will be forced to have a suitable outfit." 

Yes, and I am going to have everything I Avant, if the 
farm is to be sold," said Miss Jane, in a voice that no one 
dared to gainsay. 

But come, let me tell you, Tildy, about the new beau 1 
have for you," said Miss Bradly. 

Instantly Miss Tildy's eyes began to glisten. The word 
beau " v/as the ready sesame to her good humor. 

Oh, now, dear, good Miss Emily, tell me something about 
him. Who is he ? where from ?" &c. 

Miss Bradly smiled, coaxingly and lovingly, as she answered : 
"Well, Tildy, darling, I have a friend from the North, ^vho 
is travelling for pleasure through the valley of the Mississippi ; 



72 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



and I promised to introduce him to some of the pretty ladies of 
the West ; so, of course, I feel pride in introducing my two 
pupils to him." 

This was a most agreeable sedative to their ill-nature ; and 
both sisters came close to Miss Bradly, fairly covering her with 
caresses, and addressing to her words of flattery. 

As soon as my services were dispensed with I repaired to 
the kitchen, where I found Aunt Polly in no very good or 
amiable mood. Something had gone wrong about the arrauge- 
ments for supper. The chicken was not brown enough, or the 
cakes were heavy; something troubled her, and as a necessary 
consequence her temper was suffering. 

*' I's in an orful humor, Ann, so jist don*t come nigh me." 
Well, but, Aunt Polly, we should learn to control these 
humors. They are not the dictates of a pure spirit ; they are 
unchristian." 

Oh, laws, chile, what hab us to do do wid der Christians ? 
We are like dem poor headens what de preachers prays 'bout. 
We haint got no 'sponsibility, no more den de dogs." 

I don't think that way, Aunt Polly ; I think I am as much 
bound to do my duty, and expect a reward at the hands of my 
Maker, as any white person." 

Oh, 'taint no use of talkin' dat ar' way, kase ebcry body 
knows niggers ain't gwine to de same place whar dar massers 
goes." 

I dared not confront her obstinacy with any argument ; for 
I knew she was unwilling to believe. Poor, apathetic creature ! 
she was happier in yielding up her soul to the keej)ing of her 
owner, than she would have been in guiding it herself. This 
to me would have been enslavement indeed ; such as I could 
not have endured. He, my Creator, who gave me this heritage 
of thought, and the bounty of Hope, gave me, likewise, a strong, 
unbridled will, which nothing can conquer. The whip may 
bring my body into subjection, but the free, free spirit soars 
where it lists, and no man can check it. God is with the soul ! 
aye, in it, animating and encouraging it, sustaining it amid the 



THE BLESSING OF NIGHT. 



73 



crash, conflict, and the elemental war of passion ! The poor, 
weak flesh may yield; but, thanks to God! the soul, well- 
girded and heaven-poised, will never shrink. 

Many and long have been the unslumbering nights when I 
have lain upon my heap of straw, gazing at the pallid moon, 
and the sorrowful stars ; weaving mystic fancies as the wailing 
night-wind seemed to bring me a message from the distant and 
the lost ! I have felt whole vials of heavenly unction poured 
upon my bruised soul ; rich gifts have descended, like the manna 
of old, upon my famishing spirit ; and I have felt that God was 
nearer to me in the night time. I have imagined that tlie very 
atmosphere grew luminous with the presence of angelic hosts; 
and a strange music, audible alone to my ears, has lulled me 
to the gentlest of dreams ! God be thanked for the night, the 
stars, and the spirit's vision ! Joy came not to me with the 
breaking of the morn ; but peace, undefined, enwrapped me 
when the mantle of darkness and the crown of stars attested 
the reign of Night ! 

I grieved to think that my poor friend, this old, lonely negress, 
had nothing to soothe and chnrm her wearied heart. There 
was not a single flower blooming up amid the rank weeds of 
her nature. Hard and rocky it seemed ; yet had I found the 
prophet's wand, whereby to strike the flinty heart, and draw 
forth living waters ! pure, genial draughts of kindliness, sweet 
honey-drops, hived away in the lonely cells of her caverned 
soul ! I would have loved to give her a portion of that peace 
which radiated with its divine light the depths of my inmost 
spirit. I had come to her now for the purpose of giving her 
the sad intelligence that awaited poor Amy ; but I did not 
find her in a suitable mood. I felt assured that her harshness 
would, in some way or other, jar the finer and more sensitive 
harmonies of my nature. Perhaps she would say that she did 
not care for the sufferings of the poor, lonely child ; and that 
her bereavement would be nothing more than just ; yet I knew 
that she did not feel thus. Deep in her secret soul there lay 
folded a white-winged angel, even as the uncomely bulb envel- 



74 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



opes tlie fair petals of the lilv; and I longed for the summer 
warmth of kindness to bid it come forth and bloom in beauty. 

But now I turned awav from her, murmuring, 'Tis not the 
time." She would not open her heart, and my own must like- 
wise be closed and silent ; but when I met poor little Amy, 
looking so neglected, with scarcely apparel sufficient to cover 
her nudity, my heart failed me utterly. There she held upon 
her hip little Ben, her only joy ; every now^ and then she 
addressed some admonitory words to him, such as Hush, baby, 
love," *'you's my baby," sissy loves it," and similar expressions 
of coaxing and endearment. And this, her only comfort, wae 
about to be wrenched from her. The only link of love that 
bound her to a weary existence, was to be severed by the harsh 
mandate of another. Just God ! is this right ? Oh, my soul, 
be thou still ! Look on in patience ! The cloud deepens above ! 
The day of God's wrath is at hand ! They who have coldly 
forbidden our indulging the sweet humanities of life, who have 
destroyed every social relation, severed kith and kin, ruptured 
the ties of blood, and left us more lonely than the beasts of the 
forest, may tremble when the avenger comes ! 

I ventured to speak with Amy, and I employed the kindest 
tone ; but ever and anon little Ben would send forth such a 
piteous wail, that I feared he was in physical pain. Amy, 
however, very earnestly assured me that she had administered 
catnip tea in plentiful quantities, and had examined his person 
very carefully to discover if a pin or needle had punctured his 
flesh ; but everything seemed perfectly right. 

I attempted to take him in my arms ; but he clung so vigor- 
ously to Amy's shoulder, that it required strength to unfasten 
his grasp. 

*' Oh, don'tee take him ; he doesn't like fur to leab me. 
Him usen to me," cried Amy, as in a motherly way she 
caressed him. " Now, pretty little boy donee cry any more- 
Ann shan't hab you ; — now be a good nice boy ;" and thus she 
expended upon him her whole vocabulary of endearing epithets. 

" Who could,^' I asked myself, have the heart to untie this 



THE SLAVE-MOTHERc 



75 



sweet fraternal bond ? Who could dry up tlie only fountain in 
this benighted soul ? Oh, I have often marvelled how the white 
mother, who knows, in such perfection, the binding beauty of 
maternal love, can look unsympathizingly on, and see the poor 
black parent torn away from her children. I once saw a white 
lady, of conceded refinemmt, sitting in the portico of her own house, 
with her youngest born, a babe of some seven months, dallying 
on her knee, and she toying with the pretty gold-threads of 
its silken hair, whilst her husband was in the kitchen, Avith a 
whip in his hand, severely lashing a negro woman, whom he 
had sold to a trader — lashing her because she refused to go 
cheerfully and leave her infant behind. The poor wretch, as a 
last resource, fled to her Mistress, and, on her knees, begged her 
to have her child. Oh, Mistress," cried the frantic black woman, 
ask Master to let me take my baby with me." What think 
you was the answer of this white mother ? 

Go away, you impudent wretch, you don't deserve to have 
your child. It will be better off away from you !" Aye, 
this was the answer which, accompanied by a derisive sneer, 
she gave to the heart-stricken black mother. Thus she felt, 
spoke, and acted, even whilst caressing her own helpless infant ! 
Who would think it injustice to commend the poison-chalice 
to h^ own lips" ? She, this fine lady, was known to weep 
violently, because an Irish woman was unable to save a suffi- 
ciency of money from her earnings to bring her son from Ireland 
to America ; but, for the African mother, who was parting 
eternally from her helpless babe, she had not so much as a 
consolatory word. Oh, ye of the proud Caucasian race, would 
that your hearts were as fair and spotless as your complexions! 
Truly can the Saviour say of you, Oh, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, 
I would have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her 
chickens, but ye would not !" Oh, perverse generation of vipers, 
how long will you abuse the Divine forbearance ! 



CHAPTER IX. 



LINDY'S boldness — A SUSPICION THE MASTER'S ACCOUNTA- 
BILITY THE YOUNG REFORMER — WORDS OF HOPE THE 

CULTIVATED MULATTO THE DAWN OF AMBITION. 

In about an hour Lindy came in, looking veiy much excited, 
yet attempting to conceal it beneath the mask of calmness. I 
affected not to notice it, yet was it evident, from various little 
attentions and manifold kind words, that she sought to divert 
suspicion, and avoid all questioning as to her absence. 

''Where," she asked me, are the young ladies? have they 
company 

Yes," I replied, Miss Bradly is with them, and they are 
expecting a young gentleman, an acquaintance of Miss B.'s." 
Who is he ?" 
" Why, Lindy, how should I know ?" 

I thought maybe you hearn his name." 
'*No, I did not, and, even if I had, it would have been so un- 
important to me that I should have forgotten it." 

She opened her eyes with a vacant stare, but it was percepti- 
ble that she wandered in thought. 

Now, Lindy," I began, Miss Jane has missed you from the 
house, and both she and Miss Tildy have sworn vengeance 
against you." 

So have I sworn it agin' them.'^ 
What ! what did you say, Lindy ?" 
Really I was surprised at the girl's hardihood and boldness. 
She had been thrown from her guard, and now, upon regaining 
her composure, was alarmed. 

Oh, I was only joking, Ann ; you knows we allers jokes." 
I never do," I said, with emphasis. 

(761 



THE FRIGHT. 



''Yes, but den, Ann, you see you is one ob de quare uiis.'^ 

" What do you mean by quare ]" I asked. 

*' Oh, psha, 'taint no use ob talkin wid you, for you is good 5 
but kum, tell me, is dey mad wid me in de house, and did dey 
say dey would beat me ?" 

'* Well, they threatened something of the kind." 

Her face grew ashen pale ; it took that peculiar kind of pal- 
lor which the negro's face often assumes under the influence of 
fear or disease, and which is so disagreeable to look upon. 
Enemy of mine as she had deeply proven herself to be, I could 
not be guilty of the meanness of exulting in her trouble. 

But,^' she said, in an imploring tone, ^' you will not repeat 
what I jist said in fun." 

" Of course I will not ; but don't you remember that it was 
your falsehood that gained for me the only post-whipping 
that I ever had 

Yes ; but den I is berry sorry fur dat, and will not do it 
any more." 

This was enough for me. An acknowledgment of contrition, 
and a determination to do better, are all God requires of the 
offender ; and shall poor, erring mortals demand more ? No ; 
my resentment was fully satisfied. Besides, I felt that this 
poor creature was not altogether blamable. None of her bet- 
ter feelings had been cultivated ; they were strangled in their 
incipiency, whilst her savage instincts were left to run riot. 
Thus the bad had ripened into a full and noxious development, 
whilst the noble had been crushed in the bud. Who is to be 
answerable for the short-comings of such a soul ? Surely he 
who has cut it off from all moral and mental culture, and has 
said to the glimmerings of its faint intellect, Back, back to the 
depths of darkness !" Surely he will and must take upon him- 
self the burden of accountability. The sin is at his door, and 
woe-worth the day, when the great Judge shall come to pass sen- 
tence upon him. I have often thought that the master of slaves 
must, for consistency's sake, be an infidel — or doubt man's 
exact accountability to God for the deeds done in the body ; 



78 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



for hovr can he ^yillingl7 assume the sins of some hundreds 
of souls ? In the eve of human law, the slave has no responsi- 
bility : the master assumes all for him. If the slave is found 
guilty of a capital offence, punishable with death, the master is 
indemnified by a paid valuation, for yielding up the person of 
the slave to the demands of offended justice ? If a slave earns 
money by his labors at night or holidays, or if he is the suc- 
cessful holder of a prize ticket in a lottery, his master can le- 
gally claim the money, and there is no power to gainsay him ? 
If, then, human law recognizes a negro as irresponsible, how 
much more lenient and just will be the divine statute ? Thus, 
I hold (and I cannot think there is just logician, theologian, or 
metaphysician, who will dissent), that the owner of slaves be- 
comes sponsor to God for the sins of his slave ; and I cannot, 
then, think that one who accredits the existence of a just God, 
a Supreme Ruler, to whom we are all responsible for our deeds 
and words, would willingly take upon himself the burden of 
other people's faults and transgressions. 

Whilst I stood talking with Lindy, the sound of merry 
laughter reached our ears. 

Oh, dat is Miss Tildy, now is my time to go in, and see 
what dey will say to me; maybe while dey is in a good humor, 
dey will not beat me." 

And, thus saying, Lindy hurried away. Sad thoughts were 
crowding in my mind. Dark misgivings were stirring in my 
brain. Again I thought of the blessed society, with its hu- 
manitarian hope and aim, that dwelt afar off in the north. I 
longed to ask Miss Bradly more about it. I longed to hear of 
those holy men, blessed prophets foretelling a millennial era for 
my poor, down-trodden and despised race. I longed to ask 
questions of her; but of late she had shunned me ; she scarcely 
spoke to me ; and when she did speak, it was with indifference, 
and a degree of coldness that she had never before assumed. 

TVith these thoughts in my mind I stole along through the 
yard, until I stood almost directly under the window of the 
parlor. Something in the tone of a strange voice that reached 



WORDS OF HOPE A\D LIFE. 



79 



my ear, riveted my attention. It Avas a low, manly tone, lute- 
like, yet svrelling on the breeze, and charming the soul! It 
refreshed my senses like a draught of cooling water. I caught 
the tone, and could not move from the spot. I was transfixed^ 
*'I do not see why Fred Douglas is not equal to the best 
man in the land. What constitutes worth of character ? "What 
makes the man ? What gives elevation to him V These were 
the words I first distinctly heard, spoken in a deep, earnest tone, 
w^hich I have never forgotten. I then heard a silly laugh, which 
I readily recognized as Miss Janets, as she answered, "You 
can't pretend to say that you would be willing for a sister of 
yours to marry Fred Douglas, accom-plished as you consider 
Mm V 

I did not speak of marrying at all ; and might I not be an 
advocate of universal liberty, without believing in amalgamation ? 
Yet, it is a question whether even amalgamation should be for- 
bidden by law. The negro is a different race ; but I do not 
know that they have other than humian feelings and emotions. 
The negi'oes are, with us, the direct descendants from the great 
progenitor of the hum. an family, old Adam. They may, when 
fitted by education, even transcend us in the refinements and 
graces which adorn civilized character. In loftiness of purpose, 
in mental culture, in genius, in urbanity, in the exercise of 
manly virtues, such as fortitude, courage, and philanthropy, where 
will you show me a man that excels Fred Douglas ? And must 
the mere fact of his tawny complexion exclude him from the pale 
of that society which he is so eminently fitted to grace ? Might 
I not (if it were made a question) prefer uniting my sister's fate 
with such a man, even though 2:)artially black, to seeing her 
tied to a low fellow, a wine-bibber, a swearer, a villain, 
who possessed not one cubit of the stature of true manhood, yet 
had a complexion white as snow ? Ah, Miss, it is not the skin 
which gives us true value as men and women ; 'tis the mo- 
mentum of mind and the purity of morals, the integrity of pur- 
pose and nobility of soul, that make our place in the scale of 
being. I care not if the skin be black as Erebus or fair and 



80 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



smootli as satin, so the heart and mind be right. I do not deal 
in externals or care for surfaces." 

These words were as the bread of life to me. I could 
scarcely resist the temptation to leave my hiding-place and look 
in at the open window, to get sight of the speaker : surely, I 
thought, he must wear the robes of a prophet. I could not 
very distinctly hear what Miss Jane said in reply. I could catch 
many words, such as " nigger" and marry" " white lady," and 
other expressions used in an expostulatory voice ; but the plati- 
tudes which she employed would not have answered the demand 
of my higher reason. Old perversions and misinterpretations of 
portions of the Bible, such as the story of Hngar, an.d the curse 
pronounced upon Ham, were adduced by Miss Jane and Miss 
Tildy in a tone of triumph. 

Oh, I sicken over these stories,'^ said the same winning 
voice. How long will Christians willingly resist the known 
truth ? How long will they bay at heaven with their cruel 
blasphemies ? For I hold it to be blasphemy when a body of 
Christians, professing to be fvjllowcrs of Him who came from 
heaven to earth, and assumed the substance of humanity to 
teach us a lesson, argue thus. Our Great Model declares that 
* He came not to be ministered unto but to minister.' He in- 
culcated practically the lesson of humility in the washing of the 
disciples' feet ; yet, these His modern disciples, the followers 
of to-day, preach, even from the sacred desk, the right of men to 
hold their fellow-creatures in bondage through endless genera- 
tions, to sell them for gold, to beat them, to keep them in a heathen- 
ish ignorance ; and yet declare that it all has the divine sanction. 
Verily, oh night of Judaism, thou wast brighter than this our 
noon-day oi Ohristianit}' ! Black and bitter is the account, oh 
Church of God, that thou art gathering to thyself! I could pray 
for a tongue of inspiration, wherewith to denounce this foul 
crime. I could pray for the power to show to my country the 
terrible stain she has painted upon the banner of freedom. 
How dare we, as Americans, boast of this as the home and 
temple of liberty ? Where are the ' inalienable rights' of 



THE SPIRIT OVATION. 



81 



which our Constitiitioi-j talks in siich trumpet-tones ? Does 
not our Declaration of Independence aver, that all men are 
born free and equal? Now, do we not make this a practical 
falsehood? Let the poor slave come up to the tribunal of 
justice, and ask the wise judge upon the bench to interpret 
this piece of plain English to him ! How would the man of 
ermine blush at his own quibbles ?" 

I could tell from the speaker's voice that he had risen from 
his seat, and I knew, from the sound of footsteps, that he was 
approaching the window- I crouched down lower and lower, 
in order to conceal myself from observation, but gazed up to 
behold one whose noble sentiments and bold expression of them 
had so entranced me. 

Yery noble looked he, standing there, with the silver moon- 
light beaming upon his broad, white brow, and his deep, blue 
eye uplifted to the star-written skies. His features were calm 
and classic in their mould, and a mystic light seemed to idealize 
and spiritualize his face and form. Kneeling down upon the 
earth, I looked reverently to him, as the children of old looked 
upon their prophets. He did not perceive me, and even 
if he had, what should I have been to him — a pale-browed 
student, whose thought, large and expansive, was filled with the 
noble, the philanthropic, and the great. Yet, there I crouched 
in fear and trembling, lest a breath should betray my secret- 
place. But, would not his extended pity have embraced me, 
even me, a poor, insignificant, uncared-for thing in the great world 
— one who bore upon her face the impress of the hated nation ? 
Ay, I felt that he would not have condemned me as one devoid 
of the noble impulse of a heroic humanity. If the African 
has not heroism, pray where will you find it ? Are there, in 
the high endurance of the heroes of old Sparta, sufferings such 
as the unchronicled life of many a slave can furnish forth ? 
Martyrs have gone to the stake; but amid the pomp and sound- 
ing psaltery of a choir, and above the flame, the fagot and the 
scaffold, they descried the immortal crown, and even the 
worldly and sensuous desire of canonization may not have been 
4* 



82 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



dead with tliem. The patriot braves the battle, and dies amid 
the thickest of the carnage, whilst the jubilant strains of 
music herald him away. The soldier perishes amid the proud 
acclaim of his countrymen ; but the poor negro dies a martyr, 
unknown, unsung, and uncheered. Many expire at the whip- 
ping-post, with the gleesome shouts of their inhuman tormentors, 
as their only cheering. Yet few pity us. We are valuable 
only as property. Our lives are nothing, and our souls — why 
they scarcely think we have any. In reflecting upon these 
things, in looking calmly back over my past life, and in review- 
ing the lives of many who are familiar to me, I have felt that 
the Lord's forbearance must indeed be great ; and when thoughts 
of revenge have curdled my blood, the prayer of my suffering 
Saviour : Father forgive them, for they know not what they 
do,^' has flashed through my mind, and I have repelled them 
as angry and unchristian. Jesus drank the wormwood and the 
gall ; and we, oh, brethren and sisters of the banned race, 
must tread the wine-press alone.'^ We must bear firmly upon 
the burning ploughshare, and pass manfully through the ordeal, 
for vengeance is His and He will repay. 

But there, in the sweet moonlight, as I looked upon tliis young 
apostle of reform, a whole troop of thoughts less bitter than 
these swept over my mind. There were gentle dreamings of a 
home, a quiet home, in that Northland, where, at least, we are 
countenanced as human beings. Who," I asked myself, " is this 
mysterious Fred Douglas A black man he evidently was ; 
but how had I heard him spoken of? As one devoted to self-cul- 
ture in its noblest form, who ornamented society by his impos- 
ing and graceful bearing, who electrified audiences with the 
splendor of his rhetoric, and lured scholars to his presence by 
the fame of his acciuirements ; and this man, this oracle of lore, 
was of my race, of my blood. What ho had done, others 
might achieve. What a high determination then fired my 
breast! Give, give me but the opportunity, and my chief am- 
bition will be to prove that we, though wronged and despised, 
are not inferior to the proud Caucasi<ans. I will strive to redeem 



THE CHARM. 



83 



from unjust aspersion the name of my people. He, tliis 
illustrious stranger, gave the first impetus to my ambition ; from 
him my thoughts assumed a fonn, and one visible aim now pos- 
sessed my soul. 

How long I remained there listening I do not remember, for 
soon the subject of conversation was changed, and 1 noted not 
the particular words ; but that mournfully musical voice had a 
siren-charm for my ear, and I could not tear myself away. 
Whilst listening to it, sweet sleep, like a shielding mantle, fell 
upon me. 



CHAPTER 



X. 



THE CONVERSATION IN WHICH FEAR AND SUSPICION ARE 
AROUSED — THE YOUNG MASTER. 

It must have been long after midnight when I awoke. I do 
not remember ^Yhether I had dreamed or not, but the slumber 
had brought refreshment to my body and peace to my heart. 

T was aroused by the sound of voices, in a suppressed whis- 
per, or rather in a tone slightly above a whisper. I thought I 
detected the voice of Lindy, and, as I rose from my recumbent 
posture, I caught sight of a figure flitting round the gable of 
the house. I followed, but there was nothing visible. The pale 
moonlight slept lovingly upon the dwelling and the roofs of 
the out-buildings. Whither could the figure have fled ? There 
was no sign of any one having been there. Slowly and sadly 
I directed my steps toward Aunt Polly's cabin. I opened the 
door cautiously, not wishing to disturb her ; but easy and noise- 
less as were my motions, they roused that faithful creature. 
She sprang from the bed, exclaiming : 

La, Ann, whar has yer bin I I has bin so oneasy 'bout 
yer." 

With my native honesty I explained to her that I had been 
beguiled by the melody of a human voice, and had lingered 
long out in the autumn moonlight. 

Yes; but, chile, you'll be sick. Sleepin' out a doors is berry 
onwholesome like." 

Yes ; but, Aunt Polly, there is an interior heat which no 
autumnal frost has power to chill." 

Yes, chile, you does talk so pretty, like dem ar' great white 
scholards. Many times I has wondered how a poor darkie 
could larn so much. Now it 'pears to me as if you knowed 

[84] 



AFRICAN INTELLECT. 



85 



mucli as any oh 'em. I don't tink Miss Bradly liersef talks 
any better dan you does/' 

" Oil, Aunt Polly, your praise is sweet to me ; but then, you 
must remember not to do me more than justice. I am a poor, 
illiterate mulatto girl, who has indeed improved the modicum of 
tim^e allowed her for self-culture ; yet, when I hear such ladies 
as Miss Bradly talk, I feel how far inferior I am to the queens 
of the white tribe ' Often I ask myself why is this ? Is it 
because my face is colored ? But then there is a voice, deep 
down in my soul, that rejects such a conclusion as slanderous. 
Oh, give me but opportunity, and I will strive to equal them in 
learning." 

I don't see no use in yer wanting to larn, when you is 
nothing but a poor slave. But I does think the gift of fine 
speech mighty valable." 

And here is another thing upon which I would generalize. 
Does it not argue the possession of native mind — the immense 
value the African places upon words — the high-flown and broad- 
sounding words that he usually employs ? The ludicrous at- 
tempts which the most untutored make at grandiloquence, should 
not so much provoke mirth as admiration in the more reflective 
of the white race. Through what barriers and obstacles do not 
their minds struggle to force a way up to the light. I have 
often been astonished at the quickness with which they seized 
upon expressions, and the accuracy with which they would apply 
them. Every crude attempt which they make toward self- 
culture is laughed at and scorned by the master, or treated as 
the most puerile folly. Xo encouragement is given them. If, 
by almost superhuman effort, they gain knowledge, why they 
may; but, unaided and alone, they must work, as I have done. 
Moreover, I have been wonder-stricken at the facility with which 
the negro-boy acquires learning. 'Tis as though the rudiments 
of the school came to him by flashes of intuition. He is allowed 
only a couple of hours on Sunday afternoons for recitations, and 
such odd moments during the week as he can catch to prepare his 
lessons ; for, a servant-boy often caught with his book in hand, 



86 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



would be pronounced indolent, and punished as such. Then, how 
unjust it is for the proud statesman — prouder of his snowy com- 
plexion than of his stores of knowledge — how unjust, I say, is it in 
him to assert, in the halls of legislation, that the colored race are 
to the white far inferior in native miiul I Has he weighed the 
advantages and disadvantages of both ? Has he remembered that 
the whites; through countless generations, have been cultivated 
and refined — familiarized with the arts and sciences and ele. 
gancies of a graceful age, whilst the blacks are bound down in 
ignorance ; unschooled in lore ; untrained in virtue ; taught to 
look upon themselves as degraded — the mere drudges of their 
masters ; debarred the privileges of social life ; excluded from 
books, with the products of their labor going toward the enrich- 
ment of others? When, as in 'some solitary instance, a single 
mind dares to break through the restraints and impediments 
imposed upon it, does not the fact show of what strength the 
race, when properly cared for, is capable ? Is not the bulb, 
which enshrouds the snowy leaves of the fragrant lily, an un- 
sightly thing ? Does the uncut diamond show any of the polish 
and brilliancy which the lapidary's hand can give it ? Thus is 
it with the African mind. Let but the schoolmen breathe upon 
it, let the architect of learning fashion it, and no diamond ever 
glittered with more resplendence. With a more than prismatic 
light, it will refract the beams of the sun of knowledge ; and 
the heart, the most noble African's heart, that now slumbers in 
the bulb of ignorance, will burst forth, pure and lovely as the 
white-petaled lily ! 

I hope, kind reader, you will pardon these digressions, as I 
write my inner as well as outer life, and 1 should be unfaithful 
to my most earnest thoughts were I not to chronicle such reflec- 
tions as these. This book is not a wild romance to beguile your 
tears and cheat your fancy., Xo ; it is the truthful autobiography 
of one who has suffered long, loug, the pains and trials of slavery. 
And she is committing her story, with her own calm deductions, 
to the consideration of every thoughtful and truth-loving mind. 
Where," I asked Aunt Polly, " is Lindy V 



THE SUSPICION. 



87 



" Oh, chile, I doesn't know wliar dat gal is. Sompen is de 
matter wid her. She bin flyin' ronnd here like somebody out 
ob dar head. All's not right wid her, now you mark my words 
fur it." 

I then related to her the circumstance which had occurred 
whilst I was under the window. 

"I does jist know dat was Lindy! You didn't see who she 
was talkin' wid ?" 

" No ; and I did not distinctly discern her form ; but the voice 
I am confident was her's.^' 

" Well, sompen is gwine to happen ; kase Lindy is berry 
great coward, and I well knows 'twas sompen great dat would 
make her be out dar at midnigjit." 

What do you think it means ?" I asked. 

" Why, lean up close to me, chile, while I jist whisper it low 
like to you. I believe Lindy is gwine to run off.'^ 

I started back in terror. I felt the blood grow cold in my 
veins. Why, if she made such an attempt as this, the whole 
country would be scoured for her. Hot pursuers would be out 
in every direction. And then her flight would render slavery 
ten times more seven; for us. Master would believe that we 
were cognizant of it, and we should be put to torture for the 
purpose of wringing from us something in regard to her. Then^ 
apprehension of our following her example would cause the reins 
of authority to be even more tightly drawn. What wonder, 
then, that fright possessed our minds, as the horrid suspicion 
began to assume something like reality. We regarded each 
other in silent horror. The dread workings of the fiend of fear 
were visible in the livid hue which overspread my companion's 
face and shone in the glare of her aged eye. She clasped her 
skinny hands together, and cried, 

Oh, my chile, orful times is comin' fur us. While Lindy 
will be off in that 'lightful Canady, we will be here sufferin' all 
sorts of trouble. Oh, de Lord, if dar be any, hab marcy on us I" 

" Oh, Aunt Polly, don't say * if there be any ;' for, so certain 
as we both sit here, there is a Lord who made us. and who cares 



88 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



for US, too. We are as much tlie cliildren of His love as are tlie 
whites." 

" Oh Lord, chile, I kan't helieb it ; fur, if he loves us, why 
does he make us suffer so, an' let de white folks liab such an 
easy time ?" 

" He has some wise purpose in it. And then in that Eternity 
which succeeds the grave, He will render us blest and happy." 

The clouds of ignorance hung too thick and close around her 
mind ; and the poor old woman did not see the justice of such 
a decree. She was not to blame if, in her woeful ignorance, 
she yielded to unbelief; and, with a profanity which knowledge 
would have rebuked, dared to boldly question the Divine Pur- 
pose. This sin, also, is at the white man's door. 

I did not strive further to enlighten her; for, be it confessed, 
I was myself possessed by physical fear to an unwonted degree. 
I did not think of courting sleep. The brief dream which had 
fallen upon me as I slept beneath the parlor window, had given 
me sufficient refreshm.ent. And as for Aunt Polly, she was too 
much frightened to think of sleep. Talk we did, long and 
earnestly. I mentioned to her what I had heard Misses Tildy 
and Jane say in regard to Amy. 

Poor thing,'* exclaimed Aunt Polly, " she'll not be able to 
stand it, for her heart is wrapped up in dat ar' chile's. She 
'pears like its mother." 

" I hope they may change their intentions," I ventured to say. 

"No; neber. Wlien wonst Miss Jane gets de notion ob 
finery in her head, she is gwine to hab it. Lord lub you, Ann, 
I does wish dey would sell you and me." 
So do I," Avas my fervent reply. 

But dey will neber sell you, kase Miss Jane tinks you is 
good-lookin', an' I hearn her say she would like to hab a nice- 
lookin' maid. You see she tinks it is 'spectable." 

" I suppose I must bear my cross and crown of thorns with 
patience." 

Just then little Ben groaned in his sleep, and quickly his ever- 
watchful guardian was aroused ; she bent over him, soothing his 



THE COLLOQUY. 



89 



perturbed sleep witli a low song. Many were tlie endearing 
epithets wliich she employed, such as, " Pretty little Benny, 
nothing shall hurt you.'* Bless your little heart," and *'here 
1 is by yer side/' I'll keep de bars way frum yer.'* 

Poor child," burst involuntarily from my lips, as I reflect- 
ed that even that one only treasure would soon be taken from 
her ; then in what a hopeless eclipse would sink every ray of 
mind. Hearing my exclamation, she sprung up, and eagerly 
asked, 

" What is de matter, Ann ? Why is you and Aunt Polly 
sittin' up at dis time ob of de night ? It's most day ; say, is 
anything gwine on ?" 

Nothing at all,'^ I answered, ''only Aunt Polly does not 
feel very well, and I am sitting up talking with her." 

Thus appeased, she returned to her bed (if such a miserable 
thing could be called a bed), and was soon sleeping soundly. 
Aunt Polly wiped her eyes as she said to me, 

Ann, doesn't we niggers hab to bar a heap ? We works 
hard, and gits nothing but scanty vittels, de scraps dat de white 
folks leabes, and den dese miserable old rags dat only half 
kevers our nakedness. I declare it is too hard to bar." 

Yes," I answered, " it is hard, very hard, and enough to 
shake the endurance of the most determined martyr ; yet, 
often do I repeat to myself those divine words, * The cap 'jy 
which my Father has given me will I drink ;' and then I feel 
calmed, strong, and heroic.'^ 

Oh, Ann, chile, you does talk so beautiful, an' you has got 
de rale sort ob religion." 

Oh, would that I could think so. Would that my soul were 
more patient. I am not sufficiently hungered and athirst 
after righteousness. I pant too much for the joys of earth. I 
crave worldly inheritance, whilst the Christian's true aim should 
be for the mansions of the blest." 

Thus wore on the night in social conversation, and I forgot, 
in that free intercourse, that there was a difference between us. 
The heart takes not into consideration the distinction of mind. 



90 



ArTOBTOGRAPHV OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



liOTC banishes all thought of rank or inequality. By her kind- 
ness and confidence, this old woman made me forget her igno- 
rance. 

When the first red streak of day began to announce the 
slow coming of the sun, Aunt Polly was out, and about her 
breakfast arrangements. 

Since the illness of Master, and the departure of 3Ir. J ones, 
things had not gone on with the same precision as before. 
There was a few minutes difference in the blowing of the horn ; 
and, for offences like these. Master had sworn deeply that 
every niter's hide" should be striped, as soon as he was able 
to preside at the post." During his sickness he had not 
allowed one of us to enter his room ; **for," as he said to the doc- 
tor, " a cussed nigger made him feel worse, he wanted to be 
up and beatin' them. They needed the cowhide every breath 
they drew.'^ And. as the sapient doctor decided that our pres- 
ence had an exciting effect upon him, we were banished from 
his room. " Banished! — what's banished but set free I" 

Kow, when I rose from my seat, and bent over the form of Amy, 
and watched her as she lay wrapt in a profound sleep, with one arm 
encircling little Ben, and the two sisters, Jane and Luce, lying 
close to her — so dependent looked the three, as they thus hud- 
dled round their young protectress, so loving and trustful in 
that deep repose, that I felt now woidd be a good time for the 
angel Death to come — now, before the fatal fall of the Damo- 
ciesiau sword, whose hair thread was about to snap : but no- 
Death comes not at our bidding; he obeys a higher appoint- 
ment. The boy moaned again in his sleep, and Amy's faith- 
ful arm was tightened rotmd him. Closer she drew him to her 
maternal heart, and in a low, gurgling, songful voice, lulled him 
to a sweeter rest. I turned away from the sight, and, sinking 
on my kne^s, offered up a prayer to Him our common Father. I 
prayed that strength might be furnished me to endure the torture 
which 1 feared would come with the labors of the day I 
asked, in an especial way, for grace to be ^ven to the child. 
Amy. God is mercifal I He moves in a mysterious man- 



THE YOUNG MASTER. 



91 



ner. All power comes direct from Him ; and, oh, did I not feel 
that this young creature had need of grace to bear the burden 
that others were preparing for her ! 

My business was to clean the house and set to rights the young 
ladies' apartment, and then assist Lindy in the breakfast-room ; 
but I dared not venture in the ladies' chamber until half-past 
six o'clock, as the slightest foot-fall would arouse Miss Jane, 
who, I think, was too nervous to sleep. Thus I was left some 
little time to myself; and these few moments I generally devoted 
to reading some simple story-book or chapters in the New 
Testament. Of course, the mighty mysteries of the sacred vol- 
um^e were but imperfectly appreciated by me. I read the book 
more as a duty than a pleasure ; but this morning I could not read. 
Christ's beautiful parable of the Ten Virgins, which has such a 
wondrous significance even to the most childish mind, failed to 
impart interest, and the blessed page fell from my hands unread. 

I then thought I would go to the kitchen and assist Aunt 
Polly. I found her very much excited, and in close conversa- 
tion with our master's son John, whom the servants familiarly 
addressed as " young master." 

I have, as yet, forborne all direct and special mention of him, 
though he was by no means a person lacking interest. Unlike 
his father and sisters, he was gentle in disposition, full of loving 
kindness; yet he was so taciturn, that we had seldom an indica- 
tion of that generosity that burned so intensely in the very centre 
of his soul, and which subsequent events called forth. His sisters 
pronounced him stupid ; and, in the choice phraseology of his 
father, he was " poke-easy ;" but the poor, undiscriminating black 
people, called him gentle. To me he said but little ; yet that 
little was always kindly spoken, and I knew it to be the dictate 
of a soft, humane spirit. 

Fair-haired, with deep blue eyes, a snowy complexion and 
pensive manners, he glided by us, ever recalling to my mind 
the thought of seraphs. He was now fifteen years of age, but 
small of stature and slight of sinew, with a mournful expression 
and dejected eye, as though the burden of a great sorrow had 



92 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



been early laid upon liim. During all my residence there, 1 
liad never lieard liim laugli loud or seen him run. He had none 
of that exhilaration and buoyancy which are so captivating in 
childhood. If he asked a favor of even a servant, he always 
expressed a hope that he had given no trouble. When a slave 
was to be whipped, he would go off and conceal himself some- 
where, and never was he a spectator of any cruelty ; yet he 
did not remonstrate with his father or intercede for the victims. 
No one had ever heard him speak against the diabolical acts of 
his father ; yet all felt that he condemned them, for there was 
a silent expression of ^reproof in the earnest gaze which he 
sometimes gave him. I always fancied when the boy came near 
me, that there was about him a religion, which, like the wondrous 
virtue of the Saviour's garment, was manifest only when you 
approached near enough to touch it. It was not expressed in 
any open word, or made evident by any signal act, but, like the 
life-sustaining air which we daily breathe, we knew it only 
through its beneficent though invisible influence 



CHAPTEE XI. 



THE FLIGHT YOUNG MASTER'S APPREHENSIONS HIS CONVER- 
SATION — AMY EDIFYING TALK AMONG LADIES. 

I WAS not a little surprised to find young master now in an 
apparently earnest colloquy with Aunt Polly. A deep carnation 
spot burned upon his cheeks, and his soft eye was purple in its 
intensity. 

What is the matter I asked. 

Lor, chile," replied Aunt Polly, Lindy can't be found no- 
whar." 

Has every place been searched ?" I inquired. 

Yes,'' said little John, and she is nowhere to be found." 

Does master know it ?" 

Not yet, and I hope it may be kept from him for some time, 
at least two or three hours," he replied, with a mournful earnest- 
ness of tone. 

Why ? Is he not well enough to bear the excitement of 
it ?" I inquired. 

The boy fixed his large and wondering eyes upon me. His 
gaze lingered for a minute or two ; it was enough ; I read his 
inmost thoughts, and in my secret soul I revered him, for I bowed 
to the majesty of a heaven-born souL Such spirits are indeed 
few. God lends them to earth for but a short time ; and we 
should entertain them well, for, though they come in forms un- 
recognized, yet must we, despite the guise of humanity, do rev- 
erence to the shrined seraph n This boy now became to me an 
object of more intense interest I felt assured, by the power 
of that magnetic glance, that he was not unacquainted with the 
facts of Lindy flight. 

[98] 

I 



94 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" How far is it from liere to the river ?" he said, as if speaking 
with himself, nine miles — let me see — the Ohio once gained, 
and crossed, they are comparatively safe." 

He started suddenly, as if he had been betrayed or beguiled 
of his secret, and starting up quickly, walked away. I followed 
him to the door, and watched his delicate form and golden head, 
until he disappeared in a curve of the path which led to the 
spring. That was a favorite walk with him. Early in the 
morning (for he rose before the lark) and late in the twilight, 
alike in winter or summer, he pursued his walk. Never once 
did I see him with a book in his hand. With his eye upturned 
to the heavens or bent upon the earth, he seemed to be reading 
Nature's page. He had made no great proficiency in book- 
knowledge ; and, indeed, as he subsequently told me, he had 
read nothing but the Bible. The stories of the Old Testament 
he had committed to memory, and could repeat with great accu- 
racy. That of Joseph possessed a peculiar fascination for him. 
As I closed the kitchen door and rejoined Aunt Polly, she 
remarked, 

^^Jist as I sed, Lindy is off, and we is left here to hab trouble; 
oh, laws, look for sights now 

I made no reply, but silently set about assisting her in getting 
breakfast. Shortly after old Nace came in, with a strange ex- 
pression lighting up his fiendish face. 

"Has you hearn de news And without waiting for a reply, 
he went on, " Lindy is off fur Kanaday I ha, ha, ha !" and he 
broke out in a wild laugh ; I guess dat dose 'ere hounds will 
scent her path sure enoff ; I looks out for fun in rale arnest. I 
jist hopes I'll be sint fur her, and I'll scour dis airth but what I 
finds her." 

And thus he rambled on, in a diabolical way, neither of ua 
heeding him. He seemed to take no notice of our silence, being 
too deeply interested in the subject of his thoughts. 

I'd like to know at what hour she started off. Now, she 
was a smart one to git off so slick, widout lettin' anybody know 
ob it. She had no close worth takin' wid her, so she ken run 



nace's joy. 



95 



de faster. I wish Masser would git wake, kase I wants to be de 
fust one to tell liim ob it.'' 

Just then the two field-hands, Jake and Dan, came in. 

" Wal," cried the former, " dis am news indeed. Lindy's off 
fur sartin. Now she tinks she is some, I reckon." 

*'And why shouldn't she ?" asked Dan, a big, burly negro, 
good-natured, but very weak in mind ; of a rather low and sen- 
suous nature, yet of a good and careless humor — the best worker 
upon the farm. I looked round at him as he said this, for I 
thought there was reason as well as feeling in the speech. Why 
shouldn't she be both proud and happy at the success of her 
bold plan, if it gains her liberty and enables her to reach that 
land where the law would recognize her as possessed of rights ? 
I could almost envy her such a lot. 

I guess she'll find her Kanady down de river, by de timede 
dogs gits arter her," said Nace, with another of his ha, ha's. 

" I wonder who Masser will send fur her ? I bound, IsTace, 
you'll be sent," said Jake. 

" Yes, if dar is any fun, I is sure to be dar; but hurry up yer 
hoe-cakes, old 'ooman, so dat de breakfust will be ober, and we 
can hab an airly start." 

The latter part of this speech was addressed to Aunt Polly, 
who turned round and brandished the poker toward him, saying, 

" Go 'bout yer business, Nace ; kase you is got cause fur joy, 
it is not wort my while to be glad. You is an old fool, dat 
nobody keres 'bout, no how. I spects you would be glad to run 
off, too, if yer old legs was young enuff fur to carry you." 

Me, Poll, I wouldn't be free if I could, kase, you see, I has 
done sarved my time at de *post,' and now I is Masser's head-man, 
and I gits none ob de beatings. It is fun fur me to see de oders." 

I turned my eyes upon him, and he looked so like a beast 
that I shut out any feeling of resentment I might otherwise 
have entertained. Amy came in, bearing little Ben in her arms, 
followed by her two sisters, Jinny and Lucy. 

La, Aunt Polly, is Lindy gone ?" and her blank eyes open- 
ed to an unusual width, as she half-asked, half-asserted this fact. 



96 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Yes, but what's it to you, Amy 

" I jist bear 'em say so, as I was comin' along.'* 

""Wbar sbe be gone to ?" asked Lucy. 

*^ None ob yer bisness/' replied Aunt Polly, with her usual 
gruffness. 

Strange it was, that, when she was alone with me, she ap- 
peared to wax soft and gentle in her nature ; but, when with 
others, she was wolfish.'^ It seemed as if she had two natures. 
Now, with Nace, she was as vile and almost as inhuman as he; 
but I, who knew her heart truly, felt that she was doing her- 
self injustice. I did not laugh or join in their talk, but silently 
worked on. 

Now, you see, Ann is one ob de proud sort, kase she ken 
read, and her face is yaller ; she tinks to hold herself 'bove us ; 
but I 'members de time when Masser buyed her at de sale. 
Lor' lub yer, but she did cry when she lef her mammy ; and de 
way old Kais flung herself on de ground, ha ! ha ! it makes me 
laf now." 

I turned my eyes upon him, and, I fear, there was anything 
but a Christian spirit beaming therefrom. He had touched a 
chord in my heart which was sacred to memory, love, and 
silence. My mother ! Could I bear to have her name and 
her sorrow thus rudely spoken of ? Oh, God, what fierce and 
fiendish feelings did the recollection of her agony arouse ? 
With burning head and thorn-pierced heart, I turned back a 
blotted page in life. Again, with horror stirring my blood, 
did I see her in that sweat of mortal agony, and hear that 
shriek that rung from her soul ! Oh, God, these memories are 
a living torture to me, even now. But though Nace had touched 
the tenderest, sorest part of my heart, I said nothing to him. 
The strange workings of my countenance attracted Amy's at- 
tention, and, coming up to me, with an innocent air, she asked : 
What is the matter, Ann ? Has anything happened to you V* 

These questions, put by a simple child, one, too, whose own 
young life had been deeply acquainted with grief, were too much 
for my assumed stolidity Tears were the only reply I could 



THE QUIET WALK. 



97 



make. The child regarded me curiously, and the expression, 
poor thing," burst from her lips. I felt grateful for even her 

sympathy, and put my hand out to her. 

She grasped it, and, leaning close to me, said : 
Don't cry, Ann ; me is sorry fur you. Don^t cry any 

more." 

Poor thing, she could feel sympathy ; she, who was so loaded 
with trouble, whose existence had none of the freshness and 
vernal beauty of youth, but was seared and blighted like age, 
held in the depths of her heart a pure drop of genuine sympa- 
thy, which she freely offered me. Oh, did not my selfishness 
stand rebuked. 

Looking out of the window, far down the path that wound to 
the spring, I descried the fair form of the young John, ad- 
vancing toward the house. Pale and pure, with his blue eyes 
pensively looking up to heaven, an air of peaceful thought and 
subdued emotion was breathing from his very form. When I 
looked at him, he suggested the idea of serenity. There was 
that about him which, like the moonlight, inspired calm. He 
was walking more rapidly than I had ever seen him ; but the 
pallor of his cheek, and the clear, cold blue of his heaven-lit 
eye, harmonized but poorly with the jarring discords of life. I 
thought of the pure, passionless apostle John, whom Christ 
so loved ] And did I not dream that this youth, too, had on 
earth a mission of love to perform ? Was he not one of the 
sacred chosen ? He came walking slowly, as if he were com- 
muning with some invisible presence, 

" Thar comes young Masser, and I is glad, kase he looks 
so good like. I does lub him," said Amy. 

" Now, I is gwine fur to tell Masser, and he will gib you a 
beatinV nigger-gal, for savin' you lub a white gemman," replied 
the sardonic Nace. 

Oh. please don't tell on me. I did not mean any harm," 
and she burst into tears, v/ell-knowing that a severe whipping 
would be the reward of her construed impertinence. 

Before I had time to offer her any consolation, the subject 



98 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



of conversation liimself stood among us. With a low, tuneful 
voice, lie spoke to Amy, inquiring the cause of her tears. 

^* Oh, young Masser, I did not mean any harm. Please don't 
hab me beat.'' Little Ben joined in her tears, \yhilst the two 
girls clung fondly to her dress. 

Beaten for what asked young master, in a most encour- 
aging manner. 

She say she lub you — jist as if a black wench hab any 
right to lub a beautiful white gemman," put in Xace. 

I am glad she does, and wish that I could do something 
that would make her love me more." And a beatific smile 
overspread his peaceful face. Come, poor Amy, let me see if 
I haven't some little present for you," and he drew from his 
pocket a picayune, v^hich he handed her. With a wild and 
singular contortion of her body, she made an acknowledgment of 
thanks, and kissing the hem of his robe, she darted off from 
the kitchen, with little Ben in her arms. 

Without saying one word, young master walked away from 
the kitchen, but not without first casting a sorrowful look upon 
Nace. Strange it seemed to me, that this noble youth never 
administered a word of reproof to any one. He conveyed all 
rebukes by means of looks. Upon me this would have pro- 
duced a greater impression, for those mild, reproachful eyes 
spoke with a power which no language could equal ; but on 
one of Xace's obtuseness, it had no effect whatever. 

Shortly after, I left the kitchen, and went to the breakfast- 
room, where, with the utmost expedition, I arranged the table, 
and then repaired to the chamber of the young ladies. I found 
that they had already risen from their bed. Miss Bradly 
(who had spent the night with them) was standing at the mir- 
ror, braiding her long hair. Miss Jane was seated in a large 
chair, with an elegant dressing-wrapper, waiting for me to comb 
her auburn hair,'^ as she termed it. Miss Tildy, in a lazy at- 
titude, was talking about the events of the previous evening. 

" Now, Miss Emily, I do think him very handsome ; but I 
cannot forgive his gross Abolition sentiments." 



REACTION OF THOUGHT. 



99 



"How horribly vulgar and low lie is in his notions,'* said Miss 
Jane. 

Oh, but, girls, he was reared in the Xorth, with those fana- 
tical Abolitionists, and we can scarcely blame him." 

" What a horrible set of men those Abolitionists must be. 
They have no sense," said Miss Jane, with quite a Minerva 
air. 

" Oh, sense they assuredly have, but judgment they lack. 
They are a set of brain-sick dreamers, filled with Utopian 
schemes. They know nothing of Slavery as it exists at the 
South; and the word, which, I confess, has no very pleasant 
sound, has terrified them." This remark was made by Miss 
Bradly, and so astonished me that I fixed my eyes upon her, 
and, with one look, strove to express the concentrated contempt 
and bitterness of my nature. This look she did not seem to 
heed. With strange feelings of distrust in the integrity of hu- 
man nature, I went on about my work, which was to arrange 
and deck Miss Jane's hair, but I would have given worlds not to 
have felt toward Miss Bradly as 1 did. I remembered with what 
a different spirit she had spoken to me of those Abolitionists, 
whom she now contemned so much, and referred to as vain 
dreamers. Where was the exalted philanthropy that I had 
thought dwelt in her soul ? Was she not, now, the weakest and 
most sordid of mortals ? Where was that far and heaven-reach- 
ing love, that had seemed to encircle her as a living, burning zone ? 
Gone ! dissipated, like a golden mist ! and now, before my sight 
she stood, poor and a beggar, upon the great highway of life. 

I can tell you," said Miss Tildy, " I read the other day in a 
newspaper that the reason these northern men are so strongly 
in favor of the abolition of slavery is, that they entertain a pre- 
judice against the South, and that all this political warfare 
originated in the base feeling of envy." 

"And that is true," put in Miss Jane; '*they know that cot- 
ton, rice and sugar are the great staples of the South, and 
where can you find any laborers but negroes to produce them ?" 

" Could not the poor class of whites go there and work for 



100 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



wages V' jDertinentlj asked Miss Tildy, vrho had a good deal of 
tlie spirit of altercation in her. 

No, of course not ; because they are free and could not be 
made to work at all times. They would consent to be employed 
only at certain periods. They would not work when they were 
in the least sick, and they would, because of their liberty, claim 
certain hours as their own ; whereas the slave has no right to 
interpose any word against the overseer's order. Sick or well, 
he ?m(st work at busy seasons of the year. The whip has a 
terribly sanitary power, and has been proven to be a more 
efficient remedy than rhubarb or senna." After delivering her- 
self of this wonderful argument. Miss Jane seemed to experience 
great relief. Miss Bradly turned from the mirror, and, smiling 
sycophantically upon her, said : " Why, my dear, how well 
you argue! You are a very Cicero in debate." 

That was enough. This compliment took ready root in the 
shallow mind of the receiver, and her love for Miss B. became 
greater than ever. 

''But I do think him so handsome," broke from Miss Tildy's 
lips, in a half audible voice. 

Whom ?" asked Miss Bradly, 

Why, the stranger of last evening; the fair-browed Eobert 
Worth." 

Handsome, indeed, is he !" was the reply. 
I hope, Matilda Peterkin, you would not be so disloyal to 
the South, and to the very honorable institution under which 
your father accumulated his wealth, as to even admire a low- 
flung northern Abolitionist;" and Miss Jane reddened with all 
a Southron's ire. 

Miss Bradly was about to speak, but to what purpose the 
world to this day remains ignorant, for oath after oath, and 
blasphemy by the volley, so horrible that I will spare myself 
and the reader the repetition, proceeded from the room of Mr. 
Peterkin. 

The ladies sprang to their feet, and, in terror, rushed from 
the apartment. 



CHAPTEK XII. 

MR. PETERKIN'S rage — ITS ESCAPE — CHAT AT THE BREAK- 
FAST TABLE — CHANGE OF VIEWS — POWER OF THE FLESH 
POTS. 

It was as I had expected ; the news of Lindy's flight had 
been communicated by Nace to Mr. Peterkin, and his rage 
knew no limits. It was dangerous to go near him. Eaving 
like a madman, he tore the covering of the bed to shreds, bran- 
dished his cowhide in every direction, took down his gun, and 

swore he would " shoot every d d nigger on the place." 

His daughters had no influence over him. Out of bed he 
would get, declaring that "all this devilment would not have 
been perpetrated if he had not been detained there by the order 

of that d d doctor, who had no reason for keeping him 

there but a desire to get his money. Fearing that his hyena 
rage might vent some of its gall on them, the ladies made no 
further opposition to his intention. 

Standing just without the door, I heard Miss J ane ask him 
if he would not first take some breakfast. 

"No; cuss your breakfast. I want none of it ; I want to 
be among them ar' niggers, and give -em a taste of this cow- 
hide, that they have been sufi'erin' fur." 

In affright I fled to the kitchen, and told Aunt Polly that the 
storm had at length broken in all its fury. Each one of the 
negroes eyed the others in silent dismay. 

Pale with rage and debility, hot fury flashing from his eye., 
and white froth gathering upon his lips, Mr. Peterkin dashed 
into the kitchen. *'In the name of h — 11 and its fires, niggers, 

what does this mean] Tell me whar that d d gal is, or I'll 

cut every mother's child of you to death." 



102 



AUTOBIOGRAPH\ OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Not one spoke. Lash after lasli he dealt in every direction. 
Speak, h — 11 hounds, or I'll throttle you he cried, as he 
caught Jake and Dan by the throat, with each hand, and half 
strangled them. With their eyes rolling, and their tongues 
hanging from their mouths, they had not power to answer. As 
soon as he loosened his grasp, and their voices were sufficiently 
their own to speak, they attempted a denial ; hut a blow from 
each of Mr. Peterkin's fists levelled them to the floor. In this 
dreadful state, and with a hope of getting a moment's respite, 
Jake (poor fellow, I forgive him for it) pointed to me, saying : 

" She knows all 'bout it." 

This had the desired effect ; finding one upon whom he could 
vent his whole wrath, Peterkin rushed up to me, and Oh, such a 
blow as descended upon my head I Fifty stars blazed around 
me. My brain burned and ached ; a choking rush of tears 
filled my eyes and throat. Mercy ! mercy !" broke from m^'' 
agonized lips ; but, alas! I besought it from a tribunal where it 
was not to be found. Blow after blow he dealt me. I strove not 
to parry them, but stood and received them, as, right and left, 
they fell like a hail-storm. Tears and blood bathed my face 
and blinded my sight. You cussed fool, I'll make you rue 
the day you was born, if you hide from me what you knows 
'bout it." 

I asseverated, in the most solemn way, that I knew nothing 
of Lindy's flight. 

" You are a liar," he cried out, and enforced his words with 
another blow. 

She is not," cried Aunt Polly, whose forbearance had now 
given out. This unexpected boldness in one of the most humble 
and timid of his slaves, enraged him still farther, and he dealt 
her such a blow that my heart aches even now, as I think 
of it. 

A summons from one of the ladies recalled him to the house. 
Before leaving he pronounced a desperate threat against us, 
which amounted to this — that we should all be tied to the 

post," and beaten until confession was wrung from us, and then 



BEASTLY INHUMANITY. 



103 



taken to L , and sold to a trader, for the southern market. 

But I did not share, with the others, that wondrous dread of 
the fabled horror of ''down the river." I did not believe that 
anywhere slavery existed in a more brutal and cruel form than 
in the section of Kentucky where I lived. Solitary instances 
of kind and indulgent masters there were ; but they were the 
few exceptions to the almost universal rule. 

Now, when Mr. Peterkin withdrew, I, forgetful of my own 
wounds, lifted Aunt Polly in my arms, and bore her, half senseless, 
to the cabin, and laid her upon her ragged bed. Great God 
I exclaimed, as I bent above her, " can this thing last long ? 
How much longer will thy divine patience endure ? How much 
longer must we bear this scourge, this crown of thorns, this 
sweat of blood ? Where and with what Calvary shall this mar- 
tyrdom terminate ? Oh, give me patience, give me fortitude to 
bow to Thy will ! Sustain me, Jesus, Thou who dost know, 
hast tasted of humanity's bitterest cup, give me grace to bear 
yet a little longer !" 

With this prayer upon my lips I rose from the bedside where 
I had been kneeling, and, taking Aunt Polly's horny hands 
within my own, I commenced chafing them tenderly. I bathed 
her temples with cold water. She opened her eyes languidly, 
looked round the room slowly, and then fixed them upon me, 
with a bewildered expression. I spoke to her in a gentle tone ; 
she pushed me some distance from her, eyed me with a vacant 
glance, then, shaking her head, turned over on her side and 
closed her eyes. Believing that she was stunned and faint from 
the blow she had received, I thought it best that she should 
sleep awhile. Gently spreading the coverlet over her, I re- 
turned to the kitchen, where the affrighted group of negroes 
yet remained. Stricken by a panic they had not power of vo- 
lition. 

Casting one look of reproach upon J ake, I turned away, in- 
tending to go and see if the ladies required my attention in the 
breakfast-room ; but in the entry, which separated the house from 
the kitchen, I encountered Amy, with little Ben seated upon her 



104 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



hip. This is the usual mode with nurses in Kentucky of carrying 
children. I have seen girls actually deformed from the prac- 
tice. An enlargement of the right hip is caused by it, and 
Amy was an example of this. Had I been in a different mood, 
her position and appearance would have provoked laughter. 
There she stood, with her broad eyes wide open, and glaring 
upon me ; her unwashed face and uncombed hair were adorned 
by the odd ends of broken straws and bits of hay that clung 
to the naps of wool ; her mouth was opened to its utmost 
capacity ; her very ears were erect with curiosity ; and her 
form bent eagerly forward, whilst little Ben was coiled u^) on 
her hip, with his sharp eyes peering like those of a mouse 
over her shoulder. 

Ann,^' she cried out, tell me what's de matter ? What's 
Masser goin' to do wid us all ?" 

I don't know, Amy," I answered in a faltering tone, for 1 
feared much for her. 

I hopes de child'en will go 'long wid me, an' I'd likes for 
you to go too, Ann." 

I did not trust myself to reply ; but, passing hastily on, en- 
tered the breakftist-room, where Jane, Tildy, and Miss Bradly 
were seated at the table, with their breakfast scarcely tasted. 
They were bending over their plates in an intensity of interest 
which made them forget everything, save their subject of con- 
versation. 

*'How she could have gotten off without creating ny alarm, is 
to me a mystery,^' said Miss Jane, as she toyed with her spoon 
and cup. 

Well, old Xick is in them. Xegroes, I believe, are possessed 
by some demon. They have the witch's power of slipping 
through an auger-hole,'' said Miss Tildy. 

They are singular creatures," replied Miss Bradly ; and 1 
fear a great deal of useless sympathy is expended upon them." 

*' You may depend there is," said Miss Jane. I only wish 
these Northern abolitionists had our servants to deal with. I 
think it Would drive the philanthropy out of them." 



TEMPTINGS OF THE FLESH. 



105 



"Indeed would it," answered Miss Bradly, as slie took 
a warm roll, and busied herself spreading butter thereon; 

they have no idea of the trials attending the duty of a mas- 
ter ; the patience required in the management of so many 
different dispositions. I think a residence in the South or 
South-west would soon change their notions. The fact is, I 
think those fanatical abolitionists agitate the question only for 
political purposes. Now, it is a clearly-ascertained thing, that 
slavery would be prejudicial to the advancement of Northern 
enterprise. The negro is an exotic from a tropical region, hence 
lives longer, and is capable of more work in a warm climate. 
They have no need of black labor at the North ; and thus, I 
think, the whole affair resolves itself into a matter of sectional 
gain and interest.^' 

Here she helped herself to the wing of a fried chicken. It 
seemed that the argument had considerably whetted her appe- 
tite. Astonishing, is it not, how the loaves and fishes of this 
goodly life will change and sway our opinions? Even sober- 
minded, educated people, cannot repress their pinings after the 
flesh-pots of Egypt. 

Miss Jane seemed delighted to find that her good friend and 
instructress held the Abolition party in such contempt. Just 
then young master entered. With quiet, saintly manner, 
taking his seat at the table, he said, 

Is not the abolition power strong at the North, Miss Emily 

"Oh, no, Johnny, 'tis comparatively small; confined, I 
assure you, to a few fanatical spirits. The merchants of New 
York, Boston, and the other Northern cities, carry on a too ex- 
tensive commerce with the South to adopt such dangerous senti- 
ments. Inhere is a comity of men as well as States ; and the 
clever rule of * let alone ' is pretty well observed.'^ 

Young master made no reply in words, but fixed his large, 
mysterious eyes steadfastly upon her. Was it mournfulness 
that streamed, with a purple light, from them, or was it 
a sublimated contempt ? He said nothing, but quietly ate his 
breakfast. His fare was as homely as that of an ascetic ; he 
5* 



106 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE, 



never used meat, and always took bread without butter. A 
simple crust and glass of milk, three times a dav, was his diet. 
Miss Jane gave him a careless and indijfferent glance, then pro- 
ceeded with the conversation, totally unconscious of his pres- 
ence ; but again and again he cast furtive, anxious glances 
toward her, and I thought I noticed him sighing. 

What will father do with Lindj, if she should be caught 
asked Miss Tildj. 

" Send her down the river, of course," was Miss Jane's 
response. 

" She deserves it," said Miss Tildy. 

" Does she ?" asked the deep, earnest voice of young master. 

"Was it because he was unused to asking questions, or was 
there something in the strange earnestness of his tone, that 
made those three ladies start so suddenly, and regard him with 
such an astonished air ? Yet none of them replied, and thus 
for a few moments conversation ceased, until he rose from the 
table and left the room. 

"He is a strange youth," said Miss Bradly, and how 
wondrously handsome ! He always suggests romantic notions." 

" Yes, but I think him very stupid. He never talks to any 
of us — is always alone, seeks old and unfrequented spots ; 
neither in the winter nor summer will he remain within doors. 
Something seems to lure him to the wood, even when despoiled 
of its foliage. He must be slightly crazed — ma's health was 
feeble for some time previous to his birth, which the doctors 
say has injured his constitution, and I should not be surprised 
if his intellect had likewise suffered." This speech was pro- 
nounced by Miss Tildy in quite an oracular tone. 

Miss Bradly made no answer, and I marvelled not at her 
changing color. Had she not power to read, in that noble 
youth's voice and manner, the high enduring truth and 
singleness of purpose that dwelt in his nature ? Though he 
had never spoken one word in relation to slavery, I knew that 
all his instincts were against it ; and that opposition to it was 
the principle deeply ingrained in his heart. 



CHAPTEE XIII. 



RECOLLECTIONS — CONSOLING INFLUENCE OF SYMPATHY — AMY'S 
DOCTRINE OF THE SOUL — TALK AT THE SPRING, 

As Mr. Peterkin was passing through the vestibule of the 
front door, he met young master standing there. Now, this 
was Mr. Peterkin's favorite child, for, though he did not alto- 
gether like that quietude of manner, which he called '^poke- 
easy," the boy had never offered him any affront about his in- 
correct language, or treated him with indignity in any way. 
And then he was so beautiful 1 True, his father could not appre- 
ciate the spiritual nobility of his face ; yet the symmetry of his 
features and the spotless purity of his complexion, answered 
even to Mr. Peterkin's idea of beauty. The coarsest and most 
vulgar soul is keenly alive to the beauty of the rose and lily ; 
though that concealed loveliness, which is only hinted at by the 
rare fragrance, may be known only to the cultivated and poetic 
heart. Often I have heard him say, John is pretty enoff to be 
a gal." 

Now as he met him in the vestibule, he said, John, I'm in a 
peck o' trouble." 

"I am sorry you are in trouble father." 
That cussed black wench, Lindy, is off, and I'm 'fraid the 
neighborhood kant be waked up soon enough to go arter and 
ketch her. Let me git her once more in my clutches, and I'll 
make her pay for it. Til give her one good bastii^' that she'll 
'member, and then I'll send her down the river fur enough." 

The boy made no reply ; but, with his eyes cast down on the 
earth, he seemed to be unconscious of all that was going on 
around him. When he raised his head his eyes were burning, 
his breath came thick and short, and a deep scarlet spot shone 

[1071 



IDS 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



on the -whiteness of his cheek ; the reins in his forehead, lay 
like heavv cords, and his very hair seemed to sparkle. He 
looked as one inspired. This was nnobserved bv his parent, 
who hastily strode away to find more williag listeners. I tar- 
ried in a place where, nnnoticed by others, I commanded a good 
out-look. I saw young master clasp his hands fervently, and 
heard him passionately exclaim — How much longer, oh, 
how much longer shall this be ? ' Then slowly walking down 
his favorite path, he was lost to my vision. " Blessed youth, 
heaven-missioned, if thou wouldst only speak to me ! One 
word of consolation from God-anointed lips like thine, would 
soothe even the sting of bondage ; but no," I added, that 
earnest look, that gentle tone, tell perhaps as much as it is ne- 
cessary for me to know. This silence proceeds from some 
noble motive. Soon enough he will make himself known to 
us." 

In a little while the news of Lindy's departure had spread 
through the neighborhood like a flame. Our yard and house 
were filled with men come to offer their services to their neigh- 
bor, who, from his wealth, was considered a sort of magnate 
among them. 

Pretty soon they were mounted on horses, and armed to the 
teeth, each one with a horn fastened to his belt, galloping off in 
quest of the poor fugitive. And is this thing done beneath the 
influence of civilized laws, and by men calling themselves 
Christians ? What has armed those twelve men with pistols, 
and sent them on an excusion like this ? Is it to redeem a 
brother from a band of lawless robbers, who hold him in cap- 
tivity ? Is it to right some individual wrong ? Is it to take part 
with the weak and oppressed against the strong and the over- 
bearing ? No, no, my friends, on no such noble mission as this 
have they gone. Xo purpose of high emprise has made them 
buckle on the sword and prime the pistol. A poor, lone female, 
who. through years, has been beaten, tyrannized over, and abused, 
has ventured out to seek what this constitution professes to secure 
to every one — liberty. Barefoot and alone, she has gone forth; 



THE SEARCH. 



109 



and ^tis to bring her back to a vile and brutal slavery that these 
men have sallied out, regardless of her sex, her destitution, and 
her misery. They have set out either to recapture her or to 
shoot her down in her tracks like a dog. And this is a sys- 
tem which Christian men speak of as heaven-ordained ! This 
is a thing countenanced by freemen, whose highest national 
boast is, that theirs is the land of liberty, equality, and free- 
rights ! These are the people who yearly send large sums to 
Ireland; who j^ray for the liberation of Hungary; who wish to 
transmit armed forces across the Atlantic to aid vassal States in 
securing their liberty ! These are they who talk so largely of 
Cuba, expend so much sympathy uj)on the oppressed of other 
lands, and predict the downfall of England for her oppressive 
form of governm^it ! Oh, America ! first pluck the beam out 
of thine own eye, then shalt thou see more clearly the mote 
that is in thy brother's." 

When I watched those armed men ride away, in such high 
courage and eagerness for the hunt, I thought of Lindy, poor, 
lone girl, fatigued, worn and jaded, suffering from thirst and 
hunger; her feet torn and bruised with toil, hiding away in 
bogs and marshes, with an ear painfully acute to every sound, 
I thought of this, and all the resentment I had ever felt toward 
her faded away as a vapor. 

All that day the house was in a state of intense excitement. 
The servants could not work with their usual assiduity. Indeed, 
such was the excitement, even of the white family, that we 
were not strictly required to labor. 

Miss Jane gave me some fancy-sewing to do for her. Taking 
it with me to Aunt Polly's cabin, intending to talk with her 
whilst time was allowed me, I was surprised and pleased to find 
the old woman still asleep. It will do her good," I thought, 
" she needs rest, poor creature ! And that blow was given to 
her on my account! How much I would rather have received 
it myself." I then examined her head, and was glad to find 
no mark or bruise; so I hoped that with a good sleep she 
would wake up quite well. I seated myself on an old stool, 



110 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



near the door, which, notwithstanding the rawness of the day, 
I was obliged to leave open to admit light. It was a cool, 
windy morning, such as makes a woollen shawl necessary. My 
young mistresses had betaken themselves to cashmere wrappers 
and capes; but I still wore my thin and seedy" calico. As I 
sewed on, upon Miss Jane's embroidery, many fancies came in 
troops through my brain, defiling like a band of ghosts through 
each private gallery and hidden nook of memory, and even to 
the very inmost compartment of secret thought ! My mother, 
with her sad, sorrow-stricken face, my old companions and play- 
fellows in the long-gone years, all arose with vividness to my 
eye ! Where were they all ? Where had they been during 
the lapse of years ? Of my mother I had never heard a word. 
Was she dead ? At that suggestion I started, and felt my 
heart grow chill, as though an icy hand had clenched it ; yet 
why felt I so ? Did I not know that the grave would be to her 
as a bed of ease ? What torture could await her beyond the 
pass of the valley of shadows ? She, who had been faithful 
over a little, would certainly share in those blessed rewards 
promised by Christ; yet it seemed to me that my heart yearned 
to look upon her again in this life. I could not, without pain, 
think of her as one who had heen. There was something selfish 
in this, yet was it intensely human, and to feel otherwise I 
should have had to be less loving, less filial in my nature. 
^' Oh, mother I said, '^if ever we meet again, will it be a meet- 
ing that shall know no separation ? Mother, are you changed? 
Have you, by the white man's coarse brutality, learned to for- 
get your absent child ? Do not thoughts of her often come to 
your lonely soul with the sighing of the midnight wind? Do 
not the high and merciful stars, that nightly burn above you, 
recall mie to your heart 1 Does not the child-loved moon speak 
to you of times when, as a little thing, I nestled close to your 
bosom ? Or, mother, have other ties grown around your heart? 
Have other children supplanted your eldest-born? Do chir- 
ruping lips and bright eyes claim all your thoughts? Or do you 
toil alone, broken in soul and bent in body, beneath the 



THE YOUNG MASTER'S WORDS. 



Ill 



drudgery of human labor, without one soft voice to lull you to 
repose ? Oh, not this, not this, kind Heaven ! Let her forget 
me, in her joy; give her but peace, and on me multiply mis- 
fortunes, rain down evils, only spare, shield and protect lurP 
This tide of thought, as it rolled rapidly through my mind, sent 
the hot tears, in gushes, from my ej^es. As I bent my head to 
wipe them away, without exactly seeing it, I became aware of 
a blessed presence ; and, lifting my moist e}' es, I beheld young 
master standing before me, with that calm, spiritual glance 
which had so often charmed and soothed me. 

" What is the matter, Ann? Why are you weeping?'' he 
asked me in a gentle voice. 

Nothing, young Master, only I was thinking of my mother." 

" How long since you saw her ?" 

" Oh, years, young Master ; I have not seen her since my 
childhood — not since Master bought me." 

He heaved a deep sigh, but said nothing ; those eyes, with a 
soft, shadowed light, as though they were shining through 
misty tears, were bent upon me. 

Where is your mother now, Ann ?^' 

I don't know, young Master, I've never heard from her 
since I came here." 

Again he sighed, and now he passed his thin white hand 
across his eyes, as if to dissipate the mist. 

" You think she was sold when you were, don't you ?'' 

I expect she was. I'm almost sure she was, for 1 don't 
think either my young Masters or Mistresses wished or ex- 
pected to retain the servants." 

''I wish I could find out something about her for you; but, 
at present, it is out of my power. You must do the best you 
can. You are a good girl, Ann ; I have noticed how patiently 
you bear hard trouble. Do you pray ?" 

Oh, yes, young Master, and that is all the pleasure I have. 
What would be my situation without prayer ? Thanks to God, 
the slave has this privilege !" 

Yes, Ann, and in God's eyes you are equal to a white per- 



112 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



son. He makes no distinction ; your soul is as precious and 
dear to Him as is that of the fine Lady clad in silk and gems.*' 

I opened my eyes to gaze ujion him, as he stood there, 
with his beautiful face beaming Tvith good feeling and love 
for the humblest and lowest of God's creatures. This was 
religion ! This was the spirit which Christ commended. This 
was the love which He daily preached and practiced. 

" But how is Aunt Polly ? I heard that she was suffering 
much." 

" She is sleeping easily now," I replied. 

" Well, then, don't disturb her. It is better that she should 
sleep and he walked away, leaving me more peaceful and 
happy than before. Blessed youth ! — why have we not more 
such among us ! They would render the thongs and fetters of 
slavery less galling. 

The day was unusually quiet ; but the frostiness of the at- 
mosphere kept the ladies pretty close within doors; and ^[r. 
Peterkin had, contrary to the wishes of his family, and the 
injunctions of his physician, gone out with the others upon the 
search ; besides, he had taken Xace and the other men with 
him, and, as Aunt Polly was sick, Ginsy had been appointed 
in her place to prepare dinner. After sewing very diligently 
for some time, I wandered out through the poultry lot, lost in a 
labyrinth of strange reflection. As I neared the path leading down 
toward the spring, young master's favorite walk, I could not 
resist the temptation to follow it to its delightful terminus, 
where he was wont to linger all the sunny summer day, and 
frequently passed many hours in the winter time ? I was su- 
perstitious enough to think that some of his deep and rich 
philanthropy had been caught, as by inspiration, from this 
lovely natural retreat ; for how could the child of such a low, 
beastly parent, inherit a disposition so heavenly, and a soul so 
spotless ? He had been bred amid scenes of the most revolt- 
ing cruelty ; had lived with people of the harshest and most 
brutal dispositions ; yet had he contracted from them no moral 
stain. Were they not hideous to look upon, and was he not 



THE YOUNG MASTER^S ADVICE. 



113 



lovely as a seraph ? Were they not low and vulgar, and he 
lofty and celestial-minded ? Why and how was this ? Ah, 
did I not believe him to be one of God's blessed angels, lent 
us for a brief season ? 

The path was well-trodden, and wound and curved through 
the woods, down to a clear, natural spring of water. 
There had been made, by the order of young master, a turfet- 
ted seat, overgrown by soft velvet moss, and here this youth 
would sit for hours to ponder, and, perhaps, to weave golden fan- 
cies which were destined to ripen into rich fruition in that land 
beyond the shores of time. As I drew near the spring, I 
imagined that a calm and holy influence was settling over me. 
The spirit of the place had power upon me, and I yielded my- 
self to the spell. It was no disease of fancy, or dream of en- 
chantment, that thus possessed me ; for there, half-reclining on 
the mossy bench, I beheld young master, and, seated at his 
feet, with her little, odd, wondering face uplifted to his, was 
Amy ; and, crawling along, playing with the moss, and looking 
down into the mirror of the spring, peered the bright eyes of 
little Ben. It was a scene of such beauty that I paused to 
take a full view of it, before making my presence known. 
Young master, with his pale, intellectual face, his classic head, 
his sun-bright curls, and his earnest blue eyes, sat in a half- 
lounging attitude, making no inappropriate picture of an angel 
of light, whilst the two little black faces seemed emblems of 
fallen, degraded humanity, listening to his pleading voice. 

" Wherever you go, or in whatever condition you may be, 
Amy, never forget to pray to the good Lord.'' As he said this, 
he bent his eyes compassionately on her. 

" Oh, laws, Masser, how ken I pray ! de good Lord wouldn't 
hear me. I is too black and dirty.'' 

" God does not care for that. You are as dear to Him as the 
finest lady of the land." 

" Oh, now, Masser, you doesn't tink me is equal to you, a 
fine, nice, pretty white gemman — dress so fine." 

God cares not, my child, for clothes, or the color of the skin. 



114 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



He values the heart alone ; and if jour heart is clear, it matters 
not whether your face be black or jour clothes mean." 

" Laws, now, young Masser," and the child laughed heartily 
at the idea, you doesn't 'spect a nigger's heart am clean. I 
tells you 'tis black and dirty as dere faces.'' 

*' My poor child, I would that I had power to scatter the 
gloomy mist that beclouds your mind, and let you see and know 
that our dying Saviour embraced all your unfortunate race in 
the merits of his divine atonement." 

This speech was not comprehended by Amy. She sat 
looking vacantly at him ; marvelling all the while at his pretty 
talk, yet never once believing that Jesus prized a negro's soul. 
Young master's eyes were, as usual, elevated to the clear, ma- 
jestic heavens. Xot a cloud floated in the still, serene expanse, 
and the air was chill. One moment longer I waited, before re- 
vealing myself Stepping forward, I addressed young master 
in an humble tone. 

Well, Ann, what do you want ?'' This was not said in a 
petulant voice, but with so much gentleness that it invited the 
burdened heart to make its fearful disclosure. 

Oh, young Master, I know that you wUl pardon me for what 
I am going to ask. I cannot longer restrain myself. Tell me 
what is to become of us ? When shall we be sold ? Into whose 
hands shall I fall ?" 

"Alas, poor Ann. I am as ignorant of father's intentions as 
you are. I would that I could relieve your anxiety, but I am 
as uneasy about it as you or any one can be. Oh, I am power- 
less to do anything to better your unfortunate condition. I am 
weak as the weakest of you.'' 

** I know, young Master, that we have your kindest sympathy, 
and this knowledge softens my trouble." 

He did not reply, but sat with a perplexed expression, look- 
ino: on the s^round. 

*• Oh, Ann, you has done gin young Masser some trouble. 
What fur you do dat ? We niggers ain't no 'count any how, 



THE RELIEF OF SYMPATHY. 



115 



and you hab no sort ob bi^-iness be troublin' young Masser 'bout 
it," said Amy. 

" Be still, Amy, let Ann speak her troubles freely. It will 
relieve ber mind. You may tell me of yours too." 

Sitting down upon the sward, close to his feet, I relieved my 
oppressed bosom by a copious flood of tears. Still he spoke not, 
but sat silent, looking down. Amy was awed into stillness, 
and even little Ben became calm and quiet as a lamb. No one 
broke the spell. No one seemed anxious to do so. There are 
some feelings for which silence is the best expression. 

At length he said mildly, *'Now, my good friends, it might be 
made the subject of ungenerous remarks, if you were to be seen 
talking with me long. You had better return to the house.'' 

As Amy and I, with little Ben, rose to depart, he looked after 
us, and sighing, exclaimed, " poor creatures, my heart bleeds 
for you !" 



CHAPTEE XIV. 



THE PRATTLIXGS OF INSANITY — OLD WOUNDS REOPEN — THE 
WALK TO THE DOCTOR'S — LXFLUENCE OF NATURE. 

Upon my return to the house I hastened on to the cabin, 
hoping to find Aunt Polly almost entirely recovered. Passing 
hastily through the yard I entered the cabin with a light step, 
and to my surprise found her sitting up in a chair, playing with 
some old faded artificial flowers, the dilapidated decorations of 
Miss Tildy's summer bonnet, which had been swept from the 
house with the litter on the day before. I had never seen her 
engaged in a pastime so childish and sportive, and was not a 
little astonished, for her aversion to flowers had often been to 
me the subject of remark. 

What have you there that is pretty, Aunt Polly ?" I asked 
with tenderness. 

With a wondering, childish smile, she held the crushed bios- 
soms up, and turning them over and over in her hands, said : 

Putty things! ye is berry putty!" then pressing them to 
her bosom, she stroked the leaves as kindly as though she had 
been smoothing the truant locks of a well-beloved child. I could 
not understand this freak, for she was one to whose uncultured 
soul all sweet and pretty fancies seemed alien. Looking up to 
me with that vacant glance which at once explained all, she 
said : 

" Who's dar ? Who is you ? Oh, dat is my darter,^' and ad- 
dressing me by the remembered name of her own long-lost child, 
she traversed, in thought, the whole waste-field of memory. Kot 
a single wild-flower in the wayside of the heart was neglected or 
forgotten. She spoke of times when she had toyed and dandled 

[116] 



INSANE PRATTLE. 



11'^ 



her infant darling upon her knee ; then, shudderingly, she would 
wave me off, with terror written all over her furrowed face, and 
cry, Get you away, Masser is comin' : thar, thar he is ; see 
him wid de ropes ; he is comin' to tar you Vay frum me. Here, 
here child, git under de bed, hide frum 'em, dey is all gwine to 
take you 'way — 'way down de river, whar you'll never more see 
yer poor old mammy.'^ Then sinking upon her knees, with her 
hands outstretched, and her eyes eagerly strained forward, and 
bent on vacancy, she frantically cried : 

Masser, please, please Masser, don't take my poor chile from 
me. It's all I is got on dis ar' airth * Masser, jist let me hab it 
and I'll work fur you, I'll sarve you all de days ob my life. 
You may beat my ole back as much as you please ; you may 
make me work all de day and all de night, jist, so I ken keep 
my chile. Oh, God, oh, God ! see, dere dey goes, wid my poor 
chile screaming and crying for its mammy ! See, see it holds 
its arms to me ! Oh, dat big hard man struck it sich a blow. 
Now, now dey is out ob sight." And crawling on her knees, 
with arms outspread, she seemed to be following some imagin- 
ary object, until, reaching the door, I feared in her transport 
of agony she would do herself some injury, and, catching her 
strongly in my arms, I attempted to hold her back ; but she was 
endowed with a superhuman strength, and pushed me violently 
against the wall. 

" Thar, you wretch, you miserble wretch, dat would keep 
me from my chile, take dat blow, and I wish it would send yer 
to yer grave/' 

Recoiling a few steps, I looked at her. A wild and lurid 
light gathered in her eye, and a fiendish expression played 
over her face. She clenched her hands, and pressed her old 
broken teeth hard upon her lips, until the blood gushed from 
them ; frothing at the mouth, and wild with excitement, she 
made an attempt to bound forward and fell upon the floor. I 
screamed for help, and sprang to lift her up. Blood oozed from 
her mouth and nose ; her eyes rolled languidly, and her under- 
jaw fell as though it were broken. 



118 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OP A PBBIALE SLAVE. 



In terror I bore her to the bed, and, laying her down, I went 
to get a bowl of water to wash the blood and foam from her 
face. Meeting Amy at the door, I told her Annt Polly was 
Tery sick, and requested her to remain there nntil my re- 
torn. 

I fled to the kitchen, and seizing a pan of water that stood 
npon the shelf, remmed to the cabin. There I found young 
master bending over Aunt Polly, and wiping the blood-stains 
from her mouth and nose with his own handkerchief. This was, 
indeed, the ministration of the high to the lowly. This gener- 
ous boy never remembered the distinctions of color, but with 
that true spirit of human brotherhood which Christ inculcated 
by many memorable examples, he ministered to the humble, 
the lowly, and the despised. Indeed, such seemed to take a 
firmer hold upon his heart. Here, in this lowly cabin, like the 
good Samaritan of old, he paused to bind up the wounds of a 
poor outcast upon the dreary wayside of existence. 

Bending tenderly over Aunt Polly, until his luxuriant golden 
curls swept her withered face, he pressed his linen handkerchief 
to her mouth and nose to staunch the rapid flow of blood. 

"Oh, Ann, have you come with the water? I fear she is 
almost gone ; throw it in her face with a slight force, it may re- 
vive hert'' he said in a calm tone. 

I obeyed, but there was no sign of consciousness. After one 
or two repetitions she moved a little, young master drew a 
bottle of sal volatile fit)m bis pocket, and applied it to her nose- 
The effect was sudden ; she started up spasmodically, and look- 
ing round the room laughed wildly, frightfully ; then, shaking 
her head, her face resumed its look of pitiftil imbecility. 

The light is quenched, and forever," said young master, 
and the tears came to his eyes and rolled slowly down his 
cheeks- Amy, with Ben in her arms, stood by in anxious 
wonder ; creeping up to young master's side, she looked earnestly 
in his face, saying — 

" Don't cry, Masser, Aunt Polly will soon be well ; she jist 
sick for little while. De lick Masser gib her only hurt her 



THE PURE one's PRAYER. 



119 



little time, — she 'most well now, but her does look mighty 
wild;' 

" Oh, Lord, how much longer must these poor people be tried 
in the furnace of affliction ? How much longer wilt thou per- 
mit a suffering race to endure this harsh warfare ? Oh, Divine 
Father, look pityingly down on this thy humble servant, who 
is so sorely tried." The latter part of the speech was uttered 
as he sank upon his knees ; and down there upon the coarse 
puncheon floor we all knelt, young master forming the central 
figure of the group, whilst little Amy, the baby-boy Ben, and 
the poor lunatic, as if in mimicry, joined us. We surrounded 
him, and surely that beautiful heart-prayer must have reached 
the ear of God. When such purity asks for grace and mercy 
upon the poor and unfortunate, the ear of Divine grace listens. 
What fur you pray ?" asked the poor lunatic. 

"I ask mercy for sore souls like thine." 

*• Oh, dat is funny; but say, sir, whar is my chile ? Whar is 
she ? Why don't she come to me ? She war here a minnit 
ago ; but now she does be gone away." 

Oh, what a mystery is the human frame ! Lyre of the 
spirit, how soon is thy music jarred into discord." Young 
master uttered this rhapsody in a manner scarcely audible, but 
to my ear no sound of his was lost, not a word, syllable, or 
tone ! 

Poor Luce — is dat Luce V and the poor, crazed creature 
stared at me with a bewildered gaze! and my baby-boy, whar 
is he, and my oldest sons ? Dey is all gone from me and for 
ever." She began to weep piteously. 

" Watch with her kindly till I send Jake for the doctor," he 
said to me ; then rallying himself, he added, *'but they are all 
gone — gone upon that accursed hunt;" and, seating himself in 
a chair, he pressed his fingers hard upon his closed eye-lids. 
" Stay, I will go myself for the doctor — she must not be neg- 
lected." 

And rising from his chair he buttoned his coat, and, charg- 
ing me to take good care of her, was about starting, but 



120 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Aunt Polly sprang forward and cauglit him hy tlie arms, ex- 
claiming, 

Oh, putty, far angel, don't leab me. I kan't let you leab 
me — stay here, I has no peace when you is gone. Dey will 
come and beat me agin, and dey will take my chil'en frum me. 
Oh, please now, you stay wid me." 

And she held on to him with such a pitiful fondness, and there 
was so much anxiety in her face, such an infantile' look of ten- 
derness, with the hopeless vacancy of idiocy in the eye, that to 
refuse her would have been harsh ; and of this young master 
was incapable. So, turning to me, he said, 

" You go, Ann, for the doctor, and I will stay with her — poor 
old creature I have never done anything for her, and now I will 
gratify her." 

As the horses had all been taken by the pursuers of Lindy, I 
was forced to walk to Dr. Mandj-'s farm, which was about two 
miles distant from Mr. Peterkin's. I was glad of this, for of 
late it was indeed but seldom that I had been allowed to indulge 
in a walk through the woods. All through the leafy glory of 
the summer season I had looked toward the old sequestered 
forest with a longing eye. Each little bird seemed wooing 
me away, yet m}^ occupations confined me closely to the house ; 
and a pleasure-walk, even on Sunday, was a luxury which a 
negro might dream of but never indulge. Now, though it was 
the lonely autumn time, yet loved I still the woods, dismantled 
as they were. There is something in the grandeur of the ven- 
erable forests, that always lifts the soul to devotion ! The patri- 
archal trees and the delicate sward, the wind-music and the 
almost ceaseless miserere of the grove, elevate the heart, and to 
the cultivated mind speak with a power to which that of books 
is but poor and tame. 



CHAPTEE XV. 



QUIETUDE OF THE WOODS — A GLIMPSE OF THE STRANGER — MRS. 
MANDY'S words of cruel IRONY SAD REFLECTIONS. 

The freshening breeze, tempered with the keen chill of the 
coming winter, made a lively music through the woods, as, float- 
ing along, it toyed with the fallen leaves that lay dried and sere 
upon the earth. There stood the giant trees, rearing their bald 
and lofty heads to the heavens, whilst at their feet was spread 
their splendid summer livery. Like the philosophers of old, in 
their calm serenity they looked away from earth and its troubles 
to the " bright above.'' 

I wandered on, with a quick step, in the direction of the 
doctor's. The recent painful events were not calculated to color 
my thoughts very pleasingly ; yet I had taught myself to live 
so entirely within, to be so little affected by what was without, 
that I could be happy in imagination, notwithstanding what was 
going on in the external world. 'Tis well that the negro is of 
an imaginative cast. Suppose he were by nature strongly prac- 
tical and matter-of-fact ; life could not endure with him. His 
dreaminess, his fancy, makes him happy in spite of the dreary 
reality which surrounds him. The poor slave, with not a six- 
pence in his pocket, dreams of the time when he shall be able 
to buy himself, and revels in this most delightful Utopia, 

I had walked on for some distance, without meeting any object 
of special interest, when, passing through a large deadening 
I was surprised to see a gentleman seated upon a fragment of 
what had once been a noble tree. He was engaged at that oc- 
cupation which is commonly considered to denote want of 
thought, viz., whittling a stick. 

[121] 



122 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



I stopped suddenly, and looked at him very eagerly, for now, 
with the broad day-light streaming over him, I recognized the one 
^hom I had watched in the dubious moonbeams I This was Mr. 
E-obert "Worth, the man who held those dangerous Abolition prin- 
ciples — the fanatic, who was rash enough to express, south of 
Mason and Dixon's line, the opinion that negroes are human 
beings and entitled to consideration. Here now he was, and I 
could look at him. How I longed to speak to him, to talk with 
him, hear him tell all his generous views ; to ask questions as to 
those free Africans at the Xorth who had achieved name and 
fame, and learn more of the distinguished orator, Frederick 
Douglass ! So great was mj desire, that I was almost ready 
to break through restraint, and, forgetful of my own position, 
fling myself at his feet, and beg him to comfort me. Then came 
the memory of Miss Bradly's treachery, and I sheathed my 
heart. " Xo, no, I will not again trust to white people. They 
have no sympathy with us, our natures are too simple for their 
cunning;" and, reflecting thus, I walked on, yet I felt as if I could 
not pass him. He had spoken so nobly in behalf of the slave, 
had uttered such lofty sentiments, that my whole soul bowed 
down to him in worship. I longed to pay homage to him. 
There is a principle in the slave's nature to reverence, to look 
upward ; hence, he makes the most devout Christian, and were 
it not for this same spirit, he would be but a poor servant. 

So it was with difficulty I could let pass this opportunity of 
speaking with one whom I held in such veneration : but I gov- 
erned myself and went on. All the distance I was pondering 
upon what I had heard in relation to those of my brethren who 
had found an asylum in the Xorth. Oh, once there, I could 
achieve so much! I felt, within myself, a latent power, that, 
under more fortunate circumstances, might be turned to advan- 
tage. When I reached Doctor Mandy's residence I found that 
he had gone out to visit a patient. His wife came out to see 
me, and asked, 

Who is sick at Mr. Peterkin's ?" 

I told her, "Aunt Polly, the cook.'' 



THE doctor's wife. 



123 



" Is much the matter V 

" Yes, Madam ; young master thinks she has lost her rea- 
son." 

Lost her reason exclaimed Mrs. Mandy. 

" Yes, Madam ; she doesn't seem to know any of us, and 
evidently wanders in her thoughts." I could not repress the 
evidence of emotion when I remembered how kind to me the 
old creature had been, nay, that for me she had received the 
blow which had deprived her of reason. 

Poor girl, don't cry," said Mrs. Mandy. This lady was of 
a warm, good heart, and was naturally touched at the sight of 
human suffering ; she was one of that quiet sort of beings who 
feel a great deal and say but little. Fearful of giving offence, 
she usually kept silence, lest the open expression of her sym- 
pathy should defeat the purpose. A weak, though a good per- 
son, she now felt annoyed because she had been beguiled into 
even pity for a servant. She did not believe in slavery, yet 
she dared not speak against the peculiar institution " of the 
South. It would injure the doctor's practice, a matter about 
which she must be careful. 

I knew my place too well to say much ; therefore I observed 
a respectful silence. 

" Now, Ann, you had better hurry home. I expect there is 
great excitement at your house, and the ladies will need your 
services to-day, particularly ; to remain out too long might ex- 
cite suspicion, and be of no service to you." 

My looks plainly showed how entire was my acquiescence. 
She must have known this, and then, as if self-interest sug- 
gested it, she said, 

You have a good home, Ann, I hope you will never do as 
Lindy has done. Homes like yours are rare, and should be 
appreciated. Where will you ever again find such kind mis- 
tresses and such a good master?" 

^' Homes such as mine are rare !" I would that they were ; 
but, alas! they are too common, as many farms in Kentucky can 
show ! Oh, what a terrible institution this one must be, which 



124 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



originates and involves so many crimes ! Xow, here was a 
kind, honest-liearted woman, wlio felt assured of tlie criminality 
of slavery ; yet, as it is recognized and approved by law, she 
could not, save at the risk of social position, pecuniary loss and 
private inconvenience, even express an opinion against it. I 
was the oppressed slave of one of her wealthy neighbors ; she 
dared not offer me even a word of pity, but needs must outrage 
all my nature by telling me that I had a good home, kind 
mistresses and a good master Oh, bitter mockery of torn and 
lacerated feelings ! My blood curdled as I listened. How 
much I longed to fling aside the servility at which my whole 
soul revolted, and tell her, with a proud voice, hovr poorly I 
thought she supported the dignity of a true womanhood, when 
thus, for the poor reward of gold, she could smile at, and even 
encourage, a system which is at war with the best interest of 
human nature; which aims a deadly blow at the very machinery 
of society ; aye, attacks the noble and venerable institution of 
marriage, and breaks asunder ties which God has commanded 
us to reverence ! This is the policy of that institution, which 
Southern people swear they will support even with their life- 
blood ! I have ransacked my brain to find out a clue to the 
wondrous infatuation. I have known, during the years of my 
servitude, men who had invested more than half of their wealth 
in slaves ; and he is generally accounted the greatest gentle- 
man, who owns the most negroes. Xow, there is a reason for 
the Louisiana or Mississippi planter's investing largely in this 
sort of property ; but why the Kentucky farmer should wish 
to own slaves, is a mystery ; surely it cannot be for the petty 
ambition of holding human beings in bondage, lording^it over 
immortal souls ! Oh, perverse and strange human nature ! 
Thoughts like these, with a lightning-like power, drove through 
my brain and influenced my mind against Mrs. Mandy, who, 
I doubt not, was, at heart, a kind, well-meaning woman. How 
can the slave be a philanthropist ? 

Without saying anything whereby my safety could be im- 
perilled, I left Mrs. Mandy's residence. When I had walked 



BITTER REFLECTIONS. 



125 



about a tundred yards from the house, I turned and looked hack, 
and was surprised to see her looking after nie. " Oh, white 
woman," I inwardly exclaimed, nursed in luxury^ reared in 
the lap of bounty, with friends, home and kindred, that mortal 
power cannot tear you from, how can you pity the poor, op- 
pressed slave, who has no liberty, no right, no father, no brother, 
or friend, only as the white man chooses he shall have !" Who 
could expect these children of wealth, fostered by prosperity, 
and protected by the law, to feel for the ignorant negro, who 
through ages and generations has been crushed and kept in 
ignorance ] We are told to love our masters I Why should 
we ? Are we dogs to lick the hand that strikes us % Or are 
we men and women with never-dying souls — men and women 
unprotected in the very land they have toiled to beautify and 
adorn ! Oh, little, little do ye know, my proud, free brothers 
and sisters in the North, of all the misery we endure, or of 
the throes of soul that we have! The humblest of us feel that 
we are deprived of something that we are entitled to by the 
law of God and nature. 

I rambled on through the woods, wrapped in the shadows of 
gloom and misanthropy. *'Why,'^ I asked myself, can't I be a hog 
or dog to come at the call of my owner ? Would it not be better 
for me if I could repress all the lofty emotions and generous im- 
pulses of my soul, and become a spiritless thing ? I would swap 
natures with the lowest insect, the basest serpent that crawls upon 
the earth. Oh, that I could quench this thirsty spirit, satisfy 
this hungry heart, that craveth so madly the food and drink of 
knowledge! Is it right to conquer the spirit, which God has 
given us % Is it best for a high-souled being to sit supinely 
down and bear the vile trammels of an unnatural and immoral 
bondage ? Are these aspirings sent us from above ? Are they 
wings lent the spirit from an angel ? Or must they be clipped 
and crushed as belonging to the evil spirit ?" As I walked on, 
in this state of mind, I neared the spot where I had beheld the 
interesting stranger. 

To my surprise and joy I found him still there, occupied as 



126 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



before, in whittling, perhaps the same stick. Yon, my free 
friends, who, from the fortunate accident of birth, are entitled 
to the heritage of liberty, can but poorly understand how very 
humble and degraded American slavery makes the victim. 
Xow, though I knew this man possessed the very information 
for which I so longed, I dared not presume to address him on a 
subject even of such vital import. I dare say, and indeed after- 
times proved, this young apostle of reform would have applauded 
as heroism what then seemed to me as audacity, 

With many a lingering look toward him, I pursued the " noise- 
less tenor of my way.'' 



CHAPTER XVI. 



A REFLECTION AMERICAN ABOLITIONISTS — DISAFFECTION IN 

KENTUCKY THE YOUNG MASTER — HIS REMONSTRANCE. 

Upon my arrival home I found that the doctor, lured by 
curiosity, and not by business, had called. The news of Lindy's 
flight had reached him in many garbled and exaggerated forms; 
so he had come to assure him^self of the truth. Of course, with 
all a Southern patriot's ire, he pronounced Lindy's conduct an 
atrocious crime, for which she should answer with life, or that 
far worse penalty (as some thought), banishment down the 
river.'' Thought I not strangely, severely, of those persons, 
the doctor and the ladies, as they sat there, luxuriating over a 
bottle of wine, denouncing vengeance against a poor, forlorn 
girl, who was trying to achieve her liberty ; — heroically con- 
tending for that on which Americans pride themselves ? Had 
she been a Hungarian or an Irish maid, seeking an asylum from 
the tyranny of a King, she would have been applauded as one 
whose name was worthy to be enrolled in the litany of heroes ; 
but she was a poor, ignorant African, with a sooty face, and be- 
cause of this all sympathy was denied her, and she was pronounced 
nothing but a "runaway negro,'' who deserved a terrible punish- 
ment ; and the hand outstretched to relieve her, would have 
been called guilty of treason. Oh, wise and boastful Americans, 
see ye no oppression in all this, or do ye exult in that odious spot, 
which will blacken the fairest page of your history " to the last 
syllable of recorded time" ? Does not a blush stain your cheeks 
when you make vaunting speeches about the character of your 
government? Ye cannot, I know ye cannot, be easy in your 
consciences ; I know that a secret, unspoken trouble gnaws like 
6* 



128 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



a canker in your breasts ! Many of you veil your eyes, and 
gTope through the darkness of this domestic oppression ; you 
Tvill not listen to the cries of the helpless, but sit supinely down 
and argue upon the right" of the thing. There were kind and 
tender-hearted Jews, who felt that the crucifixion of the Mes- 
siah was a fearful crime, yet fear sealed their lips. And are 
there not now time-serving men, who are worthy and capable 
of better things, but from motives of policy will offer no word 
against this barbarous system of slavery ? Oh, show me the 
men, like that little handful at the Xorth, who are willing to 
forfeit everything for the maintenance of human justice and 
mercy. Blessed apostles, near to the mount of God ! your lips 
have been touched with the flame of a new Pentecost, and ye 
speak as never men spake before ! Who that listens to the 
words of Parker, Sumner, and Seward, can believe them other 
than inspired ? Theirs is no ordinary gift of speech ; it burns 
and blazes with a mighty power ! Cold must be the ear that 
hears them unmoved ; and hard the heart that throbs not in 
unison with their noble and earnest expressions ! Often have I 
paused in this little book, to render a feeble tribute to these great 
reformers. It may be thought out of place, yet I cannot repress 
the desire to speak my voluntary gratitude, and, in the name 
of all my scattered race, thank them for the noble efforts they 
have made in our behalf! 

All the malginity of my nature was aroused against Miss 
Bradly, when I heard her voice loudest in denunciation against 
Lindy. 

As I was passing through the room, I could catch fragments 
of conversation anything but pleasing to the ear of a slave ; 
but I had to listen in meekness, letting not even a working 
muscle betray my dissent. They were orthodox, and would not 
tolerate even from an equal a word contrary to their views. 

I did not venture to ask the doctor what he thought of Aunt 
Polly, for that would have been called impudent familiarity, 
punishable with wiphping at the " post but when I met young 
master in the entry, I learned from him that the case was one 



DISAFFECTED KENTUCKIANS 



129 



of hopeless insanity. Blood-letting, &c., had been resorted to, 
but with no effect. The doctor gave it as his opinion that the 
case was " without remedy.'^ Not knowing that young master 
diflPered from his father and sisters, the doctor had, in his jocose 
and unfeeling way, suggested that it was not much difference ; 
the old thing was of but little value ; she was old and worn-out. 
To all this young master made no other reply than a fixed look 
from his meek eyes — a look which the doctor could not under- 
stand ; for the idea of sympathy with or pity for a slave would 
have struck him as being a thing existing only in the bosom of 
a fanatical abolitionist, whose conviction would not permit him 
to cross the line of Mason and Dixon. Ah! little knew he (the 
coarse doctor) what a large heart full of human charities had 
grown within ; nay, was indigenous to this south-western lati- 
tude. I believe, yes have reason to know, that the pure senti- 
ment of abolition is one that is near and dear to the heart of 
many a Kentuckian ; even those who are themselves the here- 
ditary holders of slaves are, in many instances, the most opposed 
to the system. This sentiment is, perhaps, more largely de- 
veloped in, and more openly expressed by, the females of the 
State ; and this is accounted for from the fact that to be sus- 
pected of abolition tendencies is at once the plague-mark 
whereby a man is ever after considered unfit for public 
trust or political honor. It is the great question, the strong 
conservative element of society. To some extent it likewise 
taboos, in social circles, the woman who openly expresses such 
sentiments ; though as she has no popular interests to stake, in 
many cases her voice will be on the side of right, not might. 

In later years I remember to have overheard a colloquy be- 
tween a lady and gentleman (both slaveholders) in Kentucky. 
The gentleman had vast possessions, about one-third of which 
consisted of slaves. The lady's entire wealth was in six negroes, 
some of them under the age of ten. They were hired out at 
the highest market prices, and by the proceeds she was sup- 
ported. She had been raised in a strongly conservative com- 
munity ; nay, her own family were (to use a Kentuckyism) the 



130 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



pick and choose'' of the pro-slavery party. Some of them 
had been considered the able vindicators of the system ;" yet 
she, despite the force of education and the influence of domestic 
training, had broken away from old trammels and leash-strings, 
and was, both in thought and expression, a bold, ingrain aboli- 
tionist. She defied the lions in their chosen dens. On the oc- 
casion of this conversation, I heard her say that she could not 
remain happy whilst she detained in bondage those creatures 
who could claim, under the Constitution, alike with her, their 
freedom ; and so soon as she attained her majority, she intended 
to liberate them. But," said she — and I shall never forget 
the mournful look of her dark eye — the statute of the State 
will not allow them to remain here ten days after liberation ; 
and one of these men has a wife (to whom he is much attached), 
who is a slave to a master that will neither free her nor sell her- 
Now, this poor captive husband would rather remain in slavery 
to me, than be parted from his wife and here is the point upon 
which I always stand. I wish to be humane and just to him ; 
and yet rid myself from the horrid crime to which, from the ac- 
cident of inheritance, I have become accessory." The gentle- 
man, who seemed touched by the heroism of the girl, was 
beguiled into a candid acknowledgment of his own sentiments ; 
and freely declared to her that, if it were not for his political 
aspirations, he would openly free every slave he owned, and 
relieve his conscience from the weight of the perilous stuff" that 
so oppressed it. But," said he, were I to do it in Kentucky, 
I should be politically dead. It would, besides, strike a blow 
at my legal practice, and then what could I do ? ' Othello's 
occupation would be gone.' Of what avail, then, would be my 
' quiddits, quillets ; my cases, tenures and my tricks ?' I, who 
am high in political favor, should live to read my shame. I, 
who now * tower in my pride of place, should, by some mousing 
owl, be hawked at and killed.' No, I must burden my con- 
science yet a little longer." 

The lady, with all a young girVs naive and beautiful enthusi- 
asm, besought him to disregard popular praise and worldly 



THE REMONSTRANCE. 



131 



distinction. Seek first/' said she, " the kingdom of heaven, 
and all things else shall be given you but the gentleman had 
grown hard in this world's devious wiles. He preferred throw- 
ing off his allegiance to Providence, and, single-handed and 
alone, making his fate. Talk to me of your thrifty men, your 
popular characters, and I instantly know that you mean a 
cringing, parasitical server of the populace ; one who sinks 
soul, spirit and manly independence for the mere garments that 
cover his perishable body, and to whom the empty plaudits 
of the unthinking crowd are better music than the thankful 
prayer of suffering humanity. Let such an one, I say, have his 
full measure of the clapping of hands," let him hear it all the 
while ; for he cannot see the frown that darkens the brow of 
the guardian angel, who, with a sigh, records his guilt. Go on, 
thou worldly Pharisee, but the day will come, when the lowly 
shall be exalted. Trust and wait we longer. Oh, ye who 
know the right, and yet the wrong pursue," a fearful reckoning 
will be yours. 

But young master was not of this sort ; I felt that his lips 
were closed from other and higher motives. If it had been of 
any avail, no matter what the cost to himself, he would have 
spoken. His soul knew but one sentiment, and that was love 
to God and good will to men on earth." And now, as he en- 
tered the room where the doctor and the ladies were seated, 
and listened to their heartless conversation, he planted himself 
firmly in their midst, saying : 

" Sisters, the time has come when I must speak. Patiently 
have I lived beneath this my father's roof, and witnessed, with- 
out uttering one word, scenes at which my whole soul revolted ; 
I have heard that which has driven me from your side. On my 
bare knees, in the gloom of the forest, I have besought God to 
soften your hearts. I have asked that the dew of mercy might 
descend upon the hoary head of my father, and that womanly 
gentleness might visit your obdurate hearts. I have felt that I 
could give my life up a sacrifice to obtain this ; but my un- 
'^or^hy prayers have not yet been answered. In vain^ in vain, 



132 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



I have hoped to see a change in you. Are you women or 
fiends ? How can you persecute, to the death, poor, ignorant 
creatures, whose only fault is a black skin ? How can you in- 
humanly beat those who have no protectors but you ? Reverse 
the case, and take upon yourselves their condition ; how would 
you act ? Could you bear silently the constant wear and 
tear " of body, the perpetual imprisonment of the soul ? Could 
you surrender yourselves entirely to the keeping of another, 
and that other your primal foe — one who for ages has had his 
arm uplifted against your race ? Suppose you every day 
witnessed a board groaning with luxuries (the result of your 
labor) devoured by your persecutors, whilst you barely got the 
crumbs ; your owners dressed in purple and fine linen, whilst 
you wore the coarsest material, though all their luxury was the 
product of your exertion ; what think you would be right for 
you to do ? Or suppose I, whilst lingering at the little spring, 
should be stolen off, gagged and taken to Algiers, kept there in 
servitude, compelled to the most drudging labor ; poorly clad 
and scantily fed whilst my master lived like a prince ; kept in 
constant terror of the lash ; punished severely for every venial 
offence, and my poor heart more lacerated than my body ; — 
what would you think of me, if a man were to tell me that, 
with his assistance, I could make my escape to a land of liberty, 
where my rights would be recognized, and my person safe from 
violence ; I say what would you think, if I were to decline, 
and to say I preferred to remain with the Algerines He 
paused, but none replied. With eyes wonderingly fixed upon 
him, the group remained silent. 

" You are silent all," he continued, for conviction, like a 
swift aiTOw, has struck your souls. Oh, God !" and he raised 
his eyes upward, '*out of the mouths of babes and sucklings let 
wisdom, holiness and truth proceed. Touch their flinty hearts, 
and let the spark of grace be emitted ! Oh, sisters, know ye 
not that this Algerine captivity that I have painted, is but a 
poor picture of the daily martyrdom which our slaves endure ? 
Look on that old woman, who, by a brutal blow from our father. 



THE REPRIMAND. 



133 



has been deprived of her reason. Look at that little haggard 
orphan, Amy, who is the kicked football of you all. Look at 
the poor men whom we have brutalized and degraded. Think 
of Lindy, driven by frenzy to brave the passage to an unknown 
country rather than longer endure what we have put upon her. 
Gaze, till your eyes are bleared, upon that whipping-post, which 
rises upon our plantation ; it is wet, even now, with the blood 
that has gushed from innocent flesli. Look at the ill-fed, ill- 
clothed creatures that live among us; and think they have im- 
mortal souls, which we have tried to put out. Oh, ponder well 
upon these things, and let this poor, wretched girl, who has 
sallied forth, let her go, I say, to whatever land she wishes, and 
strive to forget the horrors that haunted her here." 

Again he paused, but none of them durst repl3\ Inspired by 
.their silence, he went on : 

" And from you. Miss Bradly, I had expected better 
things. You were reared in a State where the brutality of the 
slave system is not tolerated. Your early education, your 
home influences, were all against it. Why and how can your 
womanly heart turn away from its true instincts ? Is it for you, 
a Northerner and a woman, to put up your voice in defence of 
slavery? Oh, shame! triple-dyed shame, should stain ^^our 
cheeks ! Well may my sisters argue for slavery, when you, 
their teacher, aid and abet them. Could you not have instilled 
better things into their minds ? I know full v/ell that your 
heart and mind are against slavery ; but for the ease of living 
in our midst, enjoying our bounty, and receiving our money, 
you will silence your soul and forfeit your principles. Yea, for 
a salary, you will pander to this horrid crime. Judas, for thirty 
pieces of silver, sold the Redeemer of the world ; but what re- 
morse followed the dastard act ! You will yet live to curse the 
hour of your infamy. You might have done good. Upon the 
waxen minds of these girls you might have written noble things, 
but you would not." 

I watched Miss Bradly closely whilst he was speaking. 
She turned white as a sheet. Her countenance bespoke the 



134 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



convicted woman. Not an eye rested upon her but read the 
truth. Starting up at length from her chair, Miss Jane shouted 
out, in a theatrical way, 

''Treason! treason in our own household, and from one of 
our own number! And so, Mr. John, you are the abolitionist 
that has sown dissension and discontent among our domestics. 
We have thought you simple ; but I discover, sir, you are 
more knave than fool. Father shall know of this, and take 
steps to arrest this treason." 

" As you please, sister Jane ; you can make what report you 
please, only speak the truth " 

At this she flew toward him, and, catching' him by the collar, 
slapped his cheeks severely. 

Right well done," said a clear, manly voice; and, looking 
up, I saw Mr. Worth standing in the open door. I have been 
knocking,'^ said he, for full five minutes ; but I am not sur- 
prised that you did not hear me, for the strong speech to which 
I have listened had force enough to overpower the sound of a 
thunder-storm." 

Miss Jane recoiled a few steps, and the deepest crimson 
dyed her cheeks. She made great pretensions to refinement, 
and could not bear, now, that a gentleman (even though an 
abolitionist) should see her striking her brother. Miss Tildy 
assumed the look of injured innocence, and smilingly invited 
Mr. Worth to take a seat. 

Do not be annoyed by what you have seen. Jane is not 
passionate ; but the boy was rude to her, and deserved a 
reproof." 

Without making a reply, but, with his eye fixed on young 
master, Mr. Worth took the offered seat. Miss Bradly, with 
her face buried in her hands, moved not ; and the doctor sat 
playing with his half-filled glass of wine ; but young master 
remained standing, his eye flashing strangely, and a bright crim- 
son spot glowing on either cheek. He seemed to take no note 
of the entrance of Mr. Worth, or in fact any of the group. 
There he stood, with his golden locks falling over his white 



MR. WORTH. 135 

brow ; and calm serenity resting like a sunbeam on bis face. 
Very majestic and imposing was that youthful presence. High 
determination and everlasting truth were written upon his 
face. With one look and a murmured Father forgive them, 
for they know not what they do," he turned away. 

Stop, stop, my brave boy/' cried Mr. Worth, " stop, and 
let me look upon you. Had the South but one voice, and that 
one yours, this country would soon be clear of its great dis- 
honor." 

To this young master made no spoken reply ; but the clear 
smile that lit his countenance expressed his thanks ; and seeing 
that Mr. Worth was resolved to detain him, he said, 

" Let me go, good sir, for now I feel that I need the woods," 
and soon his figure was gliding along his well-beloved path, in 
the direction of the spring. Who shall say that solitary com- 
muning with Nature unfits the soul for active life ? True, indeed, 
it does unfit it for baseness, sordid dealings, and low detraction, 
by lifting it from its low condition, and sending it out in a broad 
excursiveness. 

Here, in the case of young master, was a sweet and 
glowing flower that had blossomed in the wilds, and been 
nursed by nature only. The country air had fanned into bloom 
the bud of virtue and the beauty of highest truth. 



OHAPTBE XYII. 



the return of the hunters flushed with success — mr. 
peterkin's vagary. 

As young Master strode away, Misses Jane and Tildy re- 
garded eacli other in silent wonder. At length the latter, 
who caught the cue from her sister, burst forth in a violent 
laugh, that I can define only by calling it a romping laugh, 
so full of forced mirth. Miss Jane took up the echo, and the 
house resounded with their assumed merriment. Xo one else, 
however, seemed to take the infection ; and they had the fun 
all to themselves. 

Well, Ann,'^ said Miss Tildy, putting on a quizzical air, " I 
suppose you have been very much edified by your young mas- 
ter's explosion of philanthropy and good-will toward you 
darkies." 

Too well I knew my position to make an answer ; so there 
I stood, silent and submissive. 

Oh, yes, I suppose this young renegade has delivered abo- 
lition lectures in the kitchen hall, to his * dearly belubed' bred- 
eren ob de colored race," added Miss Matilda, intending to be 
vastly witty. 

I think we had better send him on to an Anti-slavery con- 
vention, and give him a seat 'twixt Lucy Stone and Fred 
Douglas. Wouldn't his white complexion contrast well with 
that of the sable orator ?" and this Miss Jane designed should 
be exceedingly pungent. 

Still no one answered. Mr. Worth's face w^ore a troubled 
expression ; the doctor still played with his wine-glass ; and 
Miss Bradly's face was buried deeper in her hands. 

[136] 



CAPTURE OF LTNDY. 137 

Suppose father had been here ; what do yon think he 
would have said ?" asked Miss Jane. 

This, no doubt, recalled Dr. Mandy to the fact that Mr. Pe- 
terkin's patronage was well worth retaining, so he must speak 
now. 

Oh, your father. Miss Jane, is such a sensible man, that he 
would consider it only the freak of an imprudent beardless 
boy." 

Is, then,'' I asked myself, all expressed humanity but 
idle gibberish ? Is it only beardless boys who can feel for 
suffering slaves ? Is all noble philanthropy voted vapid by 
sober, serious, reflecting manhood ? If so, farewell hope, and 
welcome despair I'' I looked at Mr. Worth ; but his face was 
rigid, and a snowy pallor overspread his gentle features. He 
was young, and this was his first visit to Kentucky. In his 
home at the North he had heard many stories of the manner 
in which slavery was conducted in the West and South ; but 
the stories, softened by distance, had reached him in a mild 
form, consequently he was unprepared for what he had wit- 
nessed since his arrival in Kentucky. He had, though desir- 
ing liberty alike for all, both white and black, looked upon the 
system as an unjust and oppressive one, but he had no thought 
that it existed in the atrocious and cruel form which fact, not 
report, had now revealed to him. His whole soul shuddered 
and shrivelled at what he saw. He marvelled how the skies 
could be so blue and beautiful ; how the flowers could spring 
so lavishly, and the rivers roll so majestically, and the stars 
burn so brightly over a land dyed with such horrible crimes. 

*• Father will not deal very leniently with this boy's follies ; 
he will teach Johnny that there's more virtue in honoring a 
father, than in equalizing himself with negroes." Here Miss 
Jane tossed her head defiantly. 

Just then a loud noise was heard from the avenue, and, look- 
mg out the window, we descried the hunters returning crowned 
with exultation, for, alas ! poor Lindy had been found, and 
there, handcuffed, she marched between a guard of Jake on 



138 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



the one side, and Dan on the other. There were marks of 
blood on her brow, and her dress was here and there stained. 
Cool as was the day, great drops of perspiration rolled off her 
face. "With her head bowed low on her breast, she walked on 
amid the ribald jests of her persecutors. 

" Well, we has cotch dis 'ere runawav gal, and de way we 
did chase her down is nnffen to nobody," said old Nace, who 
had led the troop. ** I tells you it jist takes dis here nigger 
and his hounds to tree the runaway. I reckons, Miss Lindy, 
you'll not be fur trying ob it agin." 

Xo, dat hab fixed her," replied the obsequious Jake. Dan 
laughed heartily, showing his stout teeth. 

Now, Masser," said Xace, as taking off his remnant of a 
hat he scraped his foot back, and grinned terribly, dis ar' 
nigger, if you pleases, sar, would like to hab a leetle drap ob 
de critter dat you promise to him." 

" Oh, yes, you black rascal, you wants some ob my fust-rate 
whiskey, does you ? Wal, I 'spects, as you treed dat ar' 
d— — d nigger-wench, you desarves a drap or so.'* 

" Why, yes, Masser, you see as how I did do my best for to 
ketch her, and I is right much tired wid de run. You sees dese 
old legs is gettin' right stiff; dese jints ain't limber like Jake 
and Dan's dar, yet I tink, Masser, I did de bestest, an' I ought 
to hab a leetle drap de most, please, sar." 

*' Come, 'long, come 'long, boys, arter we stores dis gal away 
I'll gib you yer dram.'^ 

There had stood poor Lindy, never once looking up, crest- 
fallen, broken in heart, and bruised in body, awaiting a painful 
punishment, scarce hoping to escape with life and limb. Strik- 
ing her a blow with his huge riding-whip, Mr. Peterkin shouted, 
" off with you to the lock-up !" 

Now, that which was technically termed the " lock-up,*' was 
an old, strong building, which had once been used as a smoke- 
house, but since the erection of a new one, was employ- 
ed for the very coble purpose of confining negroes. It was 
a dark, damp place, without a window, and but one low door, 



MR. PETERKIN'S account OF THE CAPTURE. 



139 



througli "whicli to enter. In this wretched place, bound and 
manacled, the poor fugitive was thrust. 

There, you may run off if you ken/^ said Mr. Peterkin, as 
he drew the rough door to, and fastened on the padlock with 
the dignified air of a regularly -installed jailer. Now, boys, 
come 'long and git the liquor." 

This pleasing announcement seemed to give an additional im- 
petus to the spirits of the servants, and, with many a ha, ha, 
ha," they followed their master. 

Well, father," said Miss Jane, whilst she stood beside Mr. 
Peterkin, who was accurately measuring out a certain quantity 
of whiskey to the three smiling slaves, who stood holding their 
tin cups to receive it, I am glad you succeeded in arresting 
that audacious runaway. Where did you find her ? Who 
was with her ? How did she behave ? Oh, tell me all about 
the adventure ; it really does seem funny that such a thing 
should have occurred in our family ; and now that the wretch 
has been caught, I can afford to laugh at it." 

" Wal," answered Mr. Peterkin, as he replaced the cork in 
the brown jug, and proceeded to lock it up in his private 
closet, " you does ax the most questions in one breath of any 
gal I ever seed in all my life. Why, I haint bin in the house 
five minutes, and you has put more questions to me than a 
Philadelphy lawyer could answer. ^Pon my soul, Jane, you 
is a fast 'un." 

" Never mind my fastness, father, but tell me what I asked." 
Wal, whar is I to begin ? You axed whar Lindy was 
found ? These dogs hunted her to Mr. Farland's barn. Thar 
they 'gan to smell and snort round and cut up all sorts of 
capers, and old Nace dumb up to the hay loft, and sung out, 
in a loud voice, ^ Here she am, here she am/ Then I hearn 
a mighty scrambling and skufflin' up dar, so I jist springed up 
arter Nace, and thar was the gal, actually fightin' with Nace, 
who wanted to fetch her right down to the ground whar we 
was a waitin'. I tells you, now, one right good lick from my 
powder-horn fetched her all right. She soon seen it was no 



140 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



kind of use to be opposin' of us, and so slie jist sot down right 
willin'. I then fetched several good licks, and she knowed 
how to do, kase, when I seed I had drawed the blood, I didn't 
kere to beat her any more. So I ordered her to git down out- 
en that ar' loft quicker than she got up. Then we bound her 
hands, and driv her long through the woods like a bull. I tells 
you she was mighty-much 'umbled and shamed ; every now and 
thin she'd blubber out a cryin', but my whup soon shot up her 
howlin'.'^ 

"I've a great notion to go," said Jane, and torment her a 
little more, the impudent hussy ! I wonder if she thinks we 
will ever take her back to live with us. She has lost a good 
home, for she shall not come here any more. I want you to 
sell her, father, and at the highest price, to a regular 
trader.'' 

" That will I do, and there is a trader in this very neiglibor- 
hood now. I'll ride over this arternoon and make 'rangements 
with him fur her sale. But come, Jane, I is powerful hungry ; 
can't you git me something to eat ?" 

But, father, I have a word to say with you in private, draw 
near me." 

" What ails you now, gals ?" he said, as Miss Tildy joined 
them, with a perplexed expression of countenance. As he 
drew close to them I heard Miss Jane say, through her clenched 
teeth, in a hissing tone : 

" Old Polly is insane ; lost her reason from that blow which 
you gave her. Do you think they could indict you ?'^ 

** Who, in the name of h — 1, can say that I struck her ? Who 
saw it ? No, I'd like fur to see the white man that would dar 
present Jeems Peterkin afore the Grand Jury, and a nigger 
darn^t think of sich a thing, kase as how thar testimony ain't 
no count." 

Then we are safe." both of the ladies simultaneously cried. 

But whar is that d d old hussy ? She ain't crazy, only 

'possuming so as to shuffle outen the work. Let me git to her 
once, and I'll be bound she will step as smart as ever. One 



BRUTALITY. 



141 



shake of the old cowhide will make her jump and talk as sen- 
sible as iver she did.'^ 

'Tisn't worth while, father, going near her. I tell you, 
Doctor Mandj says she is a confirmed lunatic.'' 

I tells yer I knows her constitution better 'an any of 
yer, doctors, and all ; and this here cowhide is allers the best 
medicine fur niggers ; they ain't like the white folks, no how nor 
ways." 

So saying he, followed by his daughters, went to the cabin 
where poor Aunt Polly was sitting, in all the touching simpli- 
city of second childhood, playing with some bits of ribbon, 
bright-colored calico, and flashy artificial flowers. Looking up 
with a vacant stare at the group she spoke not, but, slowly 
shaking her head in an imbecile way, murmured : 

" These are putty, but yer mustn't take 'em frum me ; dese 
am all dat dis ole nigger hab got, dese here am fadder, mudder, 
hustbund, an chile. Lit me keep 'em. 

" You old fool, what's you 'bout, gwine on at this here rate ? 
Don't you know I is yer master, and will beat the very life 
outen yer, if yer don't git up right at once 

"Now who is yer? Sure now, an' dis old nigger doesn't 
know yer. Yer is a great big man, dat looks so cross and bad 
at me. I wish yer would go on 'bout yer own bisness, and be 
a lettin' me 'lone. I ain't a troublin' of yer, no way." 

" You ain't, arnt yer, you old fool ? but I'll give yer a drap of 
medicine that'll take the craze outen yer, and make yer know 
who yer master is. How does you like that, and this, and this ?" 
and, suiting the action to the word, he dealt her blow after blow, 
in the most ferocious manner. Her shoulders were covered 
with blood that gushed from the torn flesh. A low howl (it 
could only be called a howl) burst from her throat, and fling- 
ing up her withered hands, she cried, " Oh, good Lord Jesus, 
come and help thy poor old servant, now in dis her sore time 
ob trouble." 

The Lord Jesus won't hear sich old nigger wretches as you," 
said Mr. Peterkin. 



142 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Oil, yes, de Lord Jesus vriW. He 'peared to me but a leetle 
bit ago, and be was all dressed in Tvbite, wid a gold crown upon 
His bead, and His face war far and putty like young Masser's, 
only it seemed to be beap brighter, and he smiled at dis poor 
old sufferin' nigger; and den Speared like a low, little voice Vay 
down to de bottom ob my heart say, Polly, be ob good cheer, 
de Lord Jesus is comin' to take you home. He no care weder 
yer skin is white or black. He is gwine fur to make yer happy 
in de next world. Oh, den me feel so good, me no more care 
for anything." 

All of this is a crazy fancy," said Dr. ^landy, who stepped 
into the cabin ; but taking hold of Polly's wrist, and holding his 
fingers over her pulse, his countenance changed. " She has ex- 
cessive fever, and a strong flow of blood to the brain. She can- 
not live long. Put her instantly to bed, and let me apply 
leeches." 

" Do yer charge extry for leeching, doctor ?" asked Mr. 
Peterkin. 

" Oh, yes, sir, but it is not much consideration, as you are one 
of my best customers.^' 

don't want to run any useless expense 'bout the old 'oman. 
You see she has served my family a good many years." 

And you are for that reason much attached to her," inter- 
posed the doctor. 

Xot a bit of it, sir. I never was 'tached to a nigger. Even 
when I was a lad I had no fancy fur 'em, not even yer bright 
yallow wenches ; and I ain't gwine fur to spend money on that 
old nigger, unless you cure her, and make her able to work and 
pay fur the money that's bin laid out fur her." 

*-I can't promise to do that; neither am I certain that the 
leeches will do her any material good, but they will assuredly 
serve to mitigate her sufferings, by decreasing the fever, which 
now rages so high." 

I don' care a cuss for that. Taint no use then of trying 
the leeches. If she be gwine to die, why let her do it in the 
cheapest way.^^ 



THE PARSIMONIOUS DOCTOR. 



143 



Saying this, he went off with the young ladies, the doctor fol- 
lowing in the wake. As he was passing through the door- way, 
I caught him by the skirts of his coat. Turning suddenly 
round, he saw who it was, and drew within the cabin. 

Doctor," and I spoke with great timidity, is she so ill ? 
Will she, must she die ? Please try the leeches. Here," and 
I drew from an old hiding-place in the wall the blessed half- 
dollar which Master Eddy had given me as a keepsake. For 
years it had lain silently there, treasured more fondly than 
Egyptian amulet or Orient gem. On some rare holiday I had 
drawn it from its concealment to gloat over it with all a miser's 
pride. I did not value it for the simple worth of the coin, for I 
had sense enough to know that its actual value was but slight ; 
yet what a wealth of memories it called up ! It brought hack 
the times when 1 had a mother ; when, as a happy, careless 
child (though a slave), I wandered through the wild greenwood ; 
where I ranged free as a bird, ere the burden of a blow had 
been laid upon my shoulders; and when my young master 
and mistress sometimes bestowed kind words upon me. The 
fair locks and mild eyes of the latter gleamed upon me with 
dream-like beauty. The kind, tearful face of Master Eddy, his 
gentle words on that last most dreadful day that bounded and 
closed the last chapter of happy childhood — all these things 
were recalled by the sight of this simple little half-dollar ! And 
now I was going to part with it. What a struggle it was ! I 
couldn't do it. No, I couldn't do it. It was the one silver link 
between me and remembered joy. To part with it would be to 
wipe out the bright days of my life. It would be sacrilege, in 
justice, a wrong ; no, I replaced it in the old faded rag (in 
which it had been wrapped for years), and closed my hand con- 
vulsively over it. There stood the doctor ! He had caught 
sight of the gleaming coin, and (small as it was) his cupidity was 
excited, and when he saw my hand closed over the shining 
treasure, the smile fled from his face, and he said : 

Girl, for what purpose did you detain me ? My time is 



144 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



precious. I have other patients to visit this morning, and can- 
not be kept here longer 

" Oh, doctor, try the leeches." 
Your Master says he won't pay for them." 
But for the sake of charity, for the value of human life, 
you will do it without pay." 

" Will I, though ? Trust me for that — and who will feed my 
wife and children in the meantime. I can't be doctoring every 
old sick nigger gratuitously. Her old fagged-out frame ain't 
worth the waste of my leeches. I thought you were going to 
pay for it ; but you see a nigger is a nigger the world over. 
They are too stingy to do anything for one of their own tribe." 

But this money is a keepsake, a parting-gift from my young 
Master, who gave it to me years ago, when I was sold. I prize 
it because of the recollections which it calls up." 

" A sentimental nigger ! Well, that is something new ; but 
if you cared for that old woman's life you wouldn't hesitate," 
and, so saying, he walked away. I looked upon poor Aunt 
Polly, and I fancied there was a rebuking light in her feeble 
eye ; and her withered hands seemed stretched out to ask the 
help which I cruelly withheld. 

And shall I desert her who has suffered so deeply for me ? 
Well may she reproach me with that piteous action" — me, who 
for a romantic and fanciful feeling withhold the means of saving 
her life. Oh, how I blamed myself ! How wicked and selfish 
I thought my heart. 

Doctor ! come back, doctor ! here is the money," I cried. 

He had stood but a few steps without the cabin door, doubt- 
less expecting this change in my sentiments. 

You have done well, Ann, to deny yourself, and make some 
effort to save the life of the old woman. You see I would have 
done it for nothing ; but the leeches cost me money. It is in- 
convenient to get them, and I have a family, a very helpless 
one, to support, and you know it won't do to neglect them, lest 
I be worse than a heathen and infidel. In your case, my good 
girl, the case is ([uite diffci'€nt, for niggers are taken care of and 



THE LEECHES. 



145 



supported by their Masters, and any little change that you may 
have is an extra, for which you have no particular need." 

An extra'^ indeed it was, and a very rare one. One that 
had come but once in my life, and, God be praised, it afforded 
me an opportunity of doing the good Samaritan's work ! I had 
seen how the Levite and the priest had neglected the wounded 
woman, and with this little coin I could do a noble deed ; but 
as to my being well-cared and provided for, I thought the doctor 
had shot wide of his mark. I was surprised at the tone of easy 
familiarity which he assumed toward me ; but this was explained 
by the fact that he was what is commonly called a jolly fellow, 
and had been pretty freely indulging in the "joyful glass." 
Besides, I was going to pay him ; then, maybe, he felt a little 
ashamed of his avarice, and sought by familiar tone and manner 
to beguile me, and satisfy his conscience. 

His medical bags" had been left in the entry, for Miss Jane, 
who delighted in the Lubin-perfamed extracts, would tolerate 
nothing less sweet-scented, and by her prohibitory fiat, the 
bags" were denied admittance to the house. Once, when the 
doctor was suddenly called to see a white member of the family, 
he, either through forgetfulness or obstinacy, violated the order, 
and Miss Jane had every carpet taken up and shaken, and the 
floor scoured, for the odor seemed to haunt her for weeks. 
Since then he had rigidly adhered to the rule ; I suspect, 
with many secret maledictions upon the acuteness of her 
olfactories. 

Now he requested me to bring the bags to him, I found them, 
as I had expected, sitting in the very spot where he usually 
placed them. 

There they are, doctor, now be quick. Cure her, help her, 
So anything, but let her not die whilst this money can pur- 
chase her life, or afford her ease." 

He took the coin from my hand, surveyed it for a moment, a 
thing that I considered very cruel, for, all the while, the victim 
was suffering uncared for, unattended to. 

It is but a small piece, doctor, but it is my all ; if I had 
7 



146 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



more, 7011 should have it, but noTv please be quick in the appli- 
cation of your remedy." 

" This money will pay but for a few leeches, not enough to 
do the contusion much good. You see there is a great deal of 
diseased blood collected at the left temple ; but I'll be charitable 
and throw in a few leeches, for which you can pay me at some 
other time, when you happen to have money." 

''Certainly, doctor, I will give you all that you demand as 
fast as I get it." 

After a little scarification he applied the leeches, twelve in 
number, little, sleek, sharp, needle-pointed, oily-looking things- 
Quickly, as if starved, the tiny vampires commenced their work 
of blood-suckirg. 

*' She bore to be scarified better than any subject I ever saw. 
Not a writhe or wince," remarked the doctor. 

Ah, thought I, she has endured too much pain to tremble at 
a needle prick like that. She, whose body had bled at every 
pore, whose skin had been torn and mangled until it bore a 
thousand scars, could surely bear, without writhing, a pain so 
delicate as that. Though I thought thus, I said not a word ; 
for (to me) the w^orst part of our slavery is that we are not 
allowed to speak our opinion on any subject. We are to be 
mutes, save when it suits our owners to let us answer in words 
obsequious enough to please their greedy love of authority. 

. Silently I stood watching the leeches. From the loss of 
blood, Aunt Polly seemed somewhat exhausted, and was soon 
soundly, sweetly sleeping. 

'' Let her sleep," said the doctor, as he removed the leeches 
and replaced them in a little stone vase, when she wakes she will 
probably be better, and you will then owe me one dollar and a 
half, as the bill is two dollars. It would have been more, but 
I allow part to go for charity." So saying he left the cabin 
and returned to the house. Oh, most noble Christian charity" ! 
Is this the blessed quality that is destined to " cover a multi- 
tude of sins" ? He would not even leech a half-dying woman 
without a pecuniary reward. Oh, far advanced whites, fast 
growing in grace and ripening in holiness I 



CHAPTEE XYIII. 



THE ESSAY OF WIT YOUNG ABOLITIONIST HIS INFLUENCE — 

A NIGHT AT THE DOOR OF THE " LOCK-UP.'^ 

After wiping tlie fresh blood-stains (produced by tbe severe 
beating of Mr. Peterkin) from Aunt Polly's shoulders, and bind- 
ing up her brow to conceal the wounds made by the leeching 
process, I tenderly spread the old coverlet over her form, and 
then turned away from her to go about my usual avocations. 

The doctor was just making his adieux, and the ladies had 
gathered round him in quite a social and sportive way. Misses 
Jane and Tildy were playfully disputing which one should take 
possession of his heart and hand, in the event of Mrs. Mandy's 
sudden demise. All this merriment and light-heartedness was 
exhibited, when but a few rods from them a poor, old, faithful 
creature lay in the agonies of a torturing death, and a young 
girl, who had striven for her liberty, and tried to achieve it at 
a perilous risk, had just been bound, hand and foot, and cast 
into outer darkness! Oh, this was a strange meeting of the ex- 
tremes. What varied colors the glass of life can show ! 

At length, with many funny speeches, and promises very 
ridiculous, the doctor tore himself away from the chatty group. 

Passing in and out of the house, through the hall or in the 
parlor, as my business required, I saw Mr. Worth and Miss 
Bradly sitting quietly and moodily apart, whilst, occasionally, 
Miss Tildy would flash out with a coarse joke, or Miss Jane 
would speculate upon the feelings of Lindy, in her present 
helpless and gloomy confinement. 

I reckon she does not relish Canada about this time." 

''No; let us ask her candid opinion of it," said Miss Tildy, 

|14T] 



148 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



vrho considered herself the icit of the family, and this last speech 
she regarded as quite an extraordinary flash. 

That's very good, Till," said her patronizing sister, '*but 
you are always witty." 

" Xow, sister, ain't you ashamed to flatter me so ?" and with 
the most Laura Matilda-ish air, she turned her head aside and 
tried to blush. 

I could read, from his clear, manly g-lance, that Mr. Worth 
was sick at heart and goaded to anguish by what he saw and 
heard ; yet, like many another noble man, he sat in silent en- 
durance. Miss Jane caught the idea of his gloom, and, with a 
good deal of sly, vulpine malice, determined to annoy him. She 
had not for him, as Miss Tildy had, a personal admiration ; so, 
by way of vexing him, as well as showing ofi" her smartness, 
she asked : 

Till, is there much Worth in Abolitionism 

I don't know, but there is a Robin in it." This she thought 
a capital repartee. 

''Bravo I bravo. Till I who can equal you? You are the wit- 
tiest girl in town or country." 

Wit is a precious gift," said Mr. Worth, as he satirically 
elevated his brows. 

Indeed is it," replied Miss Tildy, " but I am not conscious 
of its possession." Of course she expected he would gainsay 
her ; but, as he was silent, her cheeks blazed like a peony. 

"What makes Miss Bradly so quiet and seemingly lachry- 
mose ] I do believe Johnny's Abolition lecture has given her the 
blues." 

"Not the lecture, but the necessity for the lecture," put in 
Mr. Worth. 

" What's that ? what's that 'bout Aberlitionists ?" exclaimed 
Mr. Peterkin, as he rushed into the room. Is there one of 
'em here? Let me know it, and my roof shan't shelter the 
rascal. Whar is he T' 

I looked toward Mr. Worth, for I feared that, on an occasion 
like this, his principles would fail as Miss Bradly's had; 



DISAFFECTION. 



149 



but the fear was quickly dissipated, as he replied in a manly 
tone: 

" I, a vindicator of the anti-slavery policy, and a denouncer 
of the slave system, stand before you, and declare myself proud 
of my sentiments.'' 

"You? ha! ha! ha! ha! that's too ridiculous; a mere boy; 
a stripling, no bigger than my arm. Pd not disgrace my man- 
hood with a fight with the like of yer." 

" So thought Goliath when David met him in warfare ; but 
witness the sequel, and then say if the battle is always to the 
stroug, or the victory with the proud. Might is not always 
right. I ask to be heard for my cause. Stripling as you call 
me, I am yet able to vindicate my abolition principles upon 
other and higher ground than mere brute force." 

" Oh, yes ; you has larnt, I s'pose, to talk. That's all them 
windy Aberlitionists ken do ; they berate and talk, but they 
can't act." 

A contemptuous smile played over the face of Mr. Worth, 
but he did not deign to answer with words. 

" Do you know, pa, that Johnny is an Abolitionist ?" asked 
Miss Jane. 

"What! John Peterkin ? my son John ?" 

" The same," and Miss Jane bowed most significantly. 

" Well, that's funny enuff ; but I'll soon bring it outen him. 
He's a quiet lad ; not much sperrit, and I guess he's hearn 
some * cock and bull story' 'bout freedom and equality. All 
smart boys of his age is apt to feel that way, but he'll come out- 
en it. It's all bekase he has hearn too many Fourth of July 
speeches ; but I don't fear fur him, he is sure to come outen 
it. The very idee of my son's being an Aberlitionist is too 
funny." 

" Funny is it, father, for your child to love mercy, and deal 
justly, even with the lowliest ?" As he said this, young master 
stood in the doorway. He looked paler and even more spiritual 
than was his wont. 

Mr. Peterkin sat for full five minutes, gazing at the boy ; 



150 



AUTOBIOGRAPH\ OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



and, strange to saj, made no reply, but strode away from the 
room. 

Miss Jane and Tildj regarded each other with evident sur- 
prise. They had expected a violent outburst, and thus to see 
their father tamed and subdued by the word and glance of 
their boy-brother, astonished them not a little. 

Miss Tildy turned toward young master, and said, in what 
was meant for a most caustic tone, 

You are an embryo Van Amburgh, thus to tame the lion's 
rage." 

But you, Tilly, are too vulpine to be fascinated even by 
the glance of Van Amburgh himself'^ 

" Well, now, Johnny, you are getting impertinent as well as 
spicy.'' 

Pertinent, you mean,'' said Mr. Worth. Miss Tildy would 
not look angry at him ; for she was besieging the fortress of his 
affections, and she deemed kind measures the most advan- 
tageous. 

Were I to narrate most accurately the conversation that fol- 
lowed, the repartees that flashed from the lips of some, and the 
anger that burned blue in the faces of others, I should only 
amuse the reader, or what is more likely, weary him. 

I will simply mention that, after a few hours' sojourn, Mr. 
Worth took his departure, not without first having a long con- 
versation, in a private part of the garden, with young master. 
Miss Bradly retired to the young ladies' room (for the}^ would 
not allow her to leave the house), under pretext of headache. 
Often, as I passed in and out to ask her if she needed anything, 
I found her weeping bitterly. Late in the evening, about eight 
o'clock, Mr. Peterkin returned; throwing the reins of his horse 
to Nace, he exclaimed : 

" Well, I've made a good bargain of it ; I've sold Lindy to a 
trader for one thousand dollars — that is, if she answers the de- 
scription which I gave of her. He is comin' in the mornin' to 
look at her ; and, with a little riggin' up, I think she'll 'pear a 
rale good-lookin' wench." 



A SALE. 



151 



When I went into the house to prepare some supper for Mr. 
Peterkin (the family tea had been despatched two hours before), 
he was in an excellent humor, well pleased, no doubt, with his 
good trade. 

Now, Ann, be brisk and smart, or you might find yourself 
in the trader's hands afore long. Likely yellow gals like you 
sells mighty well ; and if you doesn't behave well you is a 
goner." 

Down the river'^ was not terrible to me, nor did I dread 
being sold yet one thing I did fear, and that was separation 
from young master. In the last few days he had become to me 
everything I could respect ; nay, I loved him. Not that it 
was in his power to do me any sign^il act of good. He could 
not soften the severity of his father and sisters toward me ; yet 
one thing he could and did do, he spoke an occasional kind, 
hopeful word to me. Those whose hearts are fed upon kind- 
ness and love, can little understand how dear to the lonely, des- 
titute soul, is one word of friendliness. We, to whom the husks 
are flung with an unfeeling tone, appreciate as manna from 
heaven the word of gentleness ; and now I thought if I were 
to leave young master tut/ soul wcnild die. Had not his 
blessed smile elevated and inspired my sinking spirit, and his 
sweet tone softened my over-taxed heart ? Oh, blessed one ! 
even now I think of thee, and with a full heart thank God that 
suck beings have lived ! 

I watched master dispatch his supper in a most summary 
manner. At length he settled him.self back in his chair, and, 
taking his tooth-pick from his waistcoat pocket, began picking 
his teeth. 

Wal, Ann," he said, as he swung himself back in bis chair, 
how's ole Poll?" 

" She is still asleep." 

"Yes, I said she was possumiog; but by to-morrow, if she 
ain't up outen that ar' bunk of hers, I'll know the reason ; and 
I'll sell her to the trader that's comin' for Lindy." 

I wish you would sell her, father, and buy a new cook ; 



f 



152 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



she prepares everything in such an old-fashioned manner — can't 
make a single French dish," said Miss Jane. 

I don't care a cuss 'bout yer French dishes, or yer fashion- 
able cooks ; I's gwine to sell her, becase the craps didn't yield 
me much this year, and I wants money, so I must make it by 
sellin' off niggers." 

" You must not sell Aunt Polly, and you shall not," said 
young master, with a fearful emphasis. 

"What do you mean, lad ?" cried the infuriated father, and 
he sprang from his seat, and was in the very act of rushing 
upon the offender ; but suddenly he quailed before the fixed, 
determined gaze of that eye. He looked again, then cowered, 
reeled, and staggered like a drunken man, and, falling back in 
his chair, he covered his face with his hands, and uttered a 
fearful groan. The ladies were frightened ; they had never 
seen their father thus fearfully excited. They dared not speak 
one word. The finger of an awful silence seemed laid upon 
each and every one present. At length young master, with a 
slow step, approached his father, and, taking the large hand, 
which swung listlessly, within his own, said, *'Fath — but 
before he had finished the syllable, Mr. Peterkin sprang up, ex- 
claiming. 

Off, I say ! off ! off ! she sent you here ; she told you to speak 
so to me." Then gazing wildly at Johnny, he cried, Those 
are her eyes, that is her face. I say, away ! away ! leave me ! 
you torment me with the sight of that face ! It's her's it's hers. 
Blood will have blood, and now you comes to git mine !" and 
the strong man fell prostrate upon the floor, in a paroxysm of 
agony. He foamed at the mouth, and rolled his great vacant 
eyes around the room in a wildness fearful to behold. 

" Oh Lor'," said old Nace, who appeared in the doorway, 
" oh Lor', him's got a fit." 

The ladies shrieked and screamed in a frightful manner. 
Young master was almost preternaturally calm. He and Miss 
Bradly (after Nace and Jake had placed master on the bed) 
rendered him every attention. Miss Bradly chafed his temples 



t 



DEATH. 



153 



with camphor, and moistened the lips and palms of the hands 
with it. When he began to revive, he turned his face to the 
wall and wept like a child. Then he fell off into a quiet sleep. 

Young master and Miss Bradly watched beside that restless 
sleeper long and faithfully. And from that night there grew 
up between them a fervent friendship, which endured to the 
last of their mortal days. 

Upon frequently going into Aunt Polly's cabin, I was sur- 
prised to find her still sleeping. At length when my duties 
were all discharged in the house, and I went to prepare for the 
night's rest, I thought I would arouse her from her torpor and 
administer a little nourishment that might benefit her. 

To my surprise her arm felt rigid, and oh, so cold! What if 
she is dead! thought 1 ; and a cold thrill passed over my frame. 
The big drops burst from my brow and stood in chilly dew 
upon my temples. Oh Grod! can it be that she is dead! One 
look, one more touch, and the dreadful question would be an- 
swered ; yet, when I attempted to stretch forth my hand, it was 
stiff and powerless. In a moment the very atmosphere seemed 
to grow heavy ; 'twas peopled with a strange, charnel gloom. 
My breath was thick and broken, coming only at intervals and 
with choking gaspings. One more desperate effort ! I com- 
manded myself, gathered all my courage, and, seizing hold of 
the body with a power which was stronger than my own, I 
turned it over — when, oh God of mercy, such a spectacle ! the 
question was answered with a fearful affirmation. There, rigid, 
still and ghastly, she lay in death. The evident marks of a 
violent struggle were stamped upon those features, which, de- 
spite their tough hard-favoredness, and their gaunt gloom, were 
dear to me ; for had she not been my best of friends, nay proved 
her friendship by a martyrdom which, if slower, was no less 
heroic than that which adorns the columns of historical re- 
nown ? Gently I closed those wide-staring, blank eyes, and 
pressed tenderly together the distended jaws ; and, taking from 
a box a slipet of white muslin, bound up her cheeks. Slowly, 
and not without a feeling of terror, I unwound the bandage from 



t 



154 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



her "brow, which concealed the wound made by the leeches ; this 
I replaced with mj only handkerchief. I then endeavored to 
straighten the contracted limbs, for she had died lying upon 
her side, with her body drawn nearly double. I found this a 
rather difficult task ; yet was it a m^elancholy pleasure, a duty 
that I performed irresolutely but with tenderness. 

After all was done, and before getting the water to wash the 
body (for I wished to enrobe her decently for the burial), I 
gave way to the luxury of expressed grief, and, sinking down 
upon my knees beside that lifeless form, thanked God for hav- 
ing taken her from this scene of trouble and trial. " You are 
gone, my poor old friend ; but that hereafter of which we all 
entertain so much dread, cannot be to you so bad as this wretched 
present ; and though I am lonely without you, I rejoice that 
you have left this land of bondage. And I believe that at this 
moment your tried soul is free and happy 

So saying, I stepped without the door of the cabin, and, look- 
ing up to the clear, cold moon and the way-oflf stars, I smiled, 
even in my bitterness, for I imagined I could see her emanci- 
pated soul soaring away on its new-made wings, to the land 
forever flowing with milk and honey. She had often in her earth- 
pilgrimage, as many tried martyrs had done before her, fainted 
by the wayside ; but then was she not sorely tempted, and did 
not a life of captivity and seven-fold agony, atone for all her 
short-comings ? Besides, we are divinely informed that where 
little is given, little is required. In view of this sacred assurance, 
let not the sceptic reader think that my faith was stretched to 
an unwarranted degree. Yes, I did and do think that she was 
at that moment and is now happy. If not, how am I to ac- 
count for the strange feeling of peace that settled over my 
mind and heart, when I thought of her ! For a holy, heavenly 
calm, like the dropping of a prophet's mantle, overspread my 
heart; a cool sense of ease, refreshing as the night dew, and 
sustaining as the high stars, seemed to gird me round! 

I did not heed the cold air, but walked out a few rods in the 
direction of the out-house, where Lindy was confined. " Yonder,'' 



TALK AT THE DOOR OF THE LOCK-UP. 



155 



I soliloquized, "perishing for a kind word, lies a poor outcast, 
wretched being. I will go to her, bury all thoughts of the past, 
and speak one kind word of encouragement." 

As I drew near to the " lock-up," the moon that had been sail- 
ing swift and high through the heaven, passed beneath the 
screen of a dark cloud. I paused in my steps and looked up 
to the sky. " Such," I thought, "is the transit of a human 
soul across the vault of life ; beneath clouds and shadows the 
serene face is often hidden, and the spirit's mellow light is often, 
by affliction, obscured from view. 

Just then a sob of anguish fell upon my ear. I knew it was 
Lindy, and moved hastily forward ; but, light as was my foot- 
fall, it aroused the sentinel-dog, and, with a loud bark, he 
sprang toward me. " Down, Cuff! down !" said I, addressing 
the dog, who, as soon as he recognized me, crouched lovingly at 
my feet. Just then the moon glided with a queenly air from 
behind the clouds. " So," I sgid, " passeth the soul, with the 
same Diana-like sweep, from the heav}^ fold and curtain of 
human sorrow." Another moan, deeper and more fearful than 
the first ! I was close beside the door of the lock-up," and, 
cowering down, with my mouth close to the crevice, I called 
Lindy. " Who's dar ? who's dar ? For de love of heaven 
somebody come to me," said Lindy, in a half-frantic tone. 

"'Tis I, Lindy, don't you know my voice 

" Yes, it's Ann ! Oh, please, Ann, help me outen here. 
I's seen such orful sights and hearn sich dreful sounds, I'd be a 
slave all my born days jist to git way frum here. Oh, Ann, 
I's seed a speerit'' and then she gave such a fearful shriek, 
that I felt my flesh grow cold and stony as death. Yet I knew 
it was my duty to appear calm, and try to persuade her that it 
was not true or real. 

" Oh, no, Lindy, you must not be frightened ; only hope and 
trust in God, and pray to Him. He will take you away from 
all this trouble. He loves you. He cares for you, for 'twas 
He who made you, Your soul is precious to Him. Oh, try to 
pray," 



156 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Oh, but, Ann, I doesn't know liow to pray. I never seed 
God, and I is afraid of Him. He might be like master." 

This was fearful ignorance, and how to begin to teach her the 
way to believe was above my ability ; yet I knew that every 
soul was precious to God ; so I made an endeavor to do all I could 
in the way of instruction. 

*^ Say, Our Father, who art in heaven," Lindy. 

" Our Father, who art in heaven," she repeated in a slow, 
nervous manner. 

" Hallowed be Thy name." Again she repeated, and so on 
we prayed, she following accurately after me, though the heavy 
door separated us. Think ye not, oh, gentle reader, that this 
prayer was heard above ? Never did words come more truly 
from my heart ; and with a low moan, they rung plaintively 
upon the still, moonlit air I 1 could tell, from the fervent tone 
in which Lindy followed, that her whole soul was engaged. 
When the final amen had been said, she asked, " Ann, what's 
to become of me V 

I evaded her by saying, how can I know Avhat master will 
do?" 

Yes, but haven't you heard ? Oh, don't fool me, Ann, but 
tell me all." 

For a moment I hesitated, then said : Yes, Lindy, I'll deal 
fairly with you. I have heard that master intends selling 
you to-morrow to a trader, whom he went to see to-day ; and, 
if the trader is satisfied with you to-morrow, the bargain will 
be closed." 

Oh, Lord ! oh. Lord !" she groaned forth, oh, is I gwine 
down de ribber ? Oh, Lord, kill me right now ; but don't send 
me to dat dreful place, down de ribber, down de ribber !'^ 

Oh, trust in the Lord, and He will protect you. Down tlie 
river can't be much worse than here, maybe not so bad. For 
my part, Lindy, I would rather be sold and run the risk of get- 
ting a good master, than remain here where we are treated 
worse than dogs." 

*' Oh, dar isn't no sort ob hope ob my gitten any better homo 



THE YOUNG GUARDIAN. 157 

den dis here one ; den I knows you all, and way off dar 'mong 
strange black folks, oh, no, I never can go; de Lord hab marcy 
on me.'' 

This begging of the poor negroes to the Lord to have mercy 
on them, though frequent, has no particular significance, It is 
more a plaint of agony than a cry for actual mercy ; and, in 
Lindy's case, it most assuredly only expressed her grief, for she 
had no ripe faith in the power and willingness of Our Father to 
send mercy to her. Religion she believed consisted in going to 
church every Sunday twice ; consequently it was a luxury^ 
which, like all luxuries, must be monopolized by the whites. 
From the very depths of my heart I prayed that the light of 
Divine grace might shine in upon her darkened intellect. Soul 
of Faith, verily art thou soul of beauty ! And though, as a 
special gift, faith is not withheld from the lowliest, the most 
ignorant, yet does its possession give to the poorest and most 
degraded Ethiopian a divine consciousness, an inspiration, that 
as to what is grandest in the soul exalts him above the noblest 
of poets. 

Whilst talking to Lindy, I was surprised to hear the muffled 
sound of an approaching footstep. Noiselessly I was trying to 
creep away, when young master said in a low voice : 

" Is this you, Ann ? Wait a moment. Have you spoken to 
Lindy ? Have you told her — " 

He did not finish the sentence, and I answered, 

" Yes, I have told her that she is to be sold, and to a trader." 

" Is she willing ?" 
No, sir, she has a great terror of down the river." 

" That is the way with them all, yet her condition, so far as 
treatment is concerned, may be bettered, certainly it cannot be 
made worse." 

" Will you speak to her, young Master, and reconcile her to 
her situation ?" 

" Yes, I will do all I can." 
And now I will go and stay with the corpse of dear Aunt 
Polly;" here I found it impossible to restrain my tears, and, 



158 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



convulsed with emotion, I seated myself upon the ground with 
my back against the door of the lock-up. 

" Dead ? dead ? Aunt Polly dead he asked in a bewil- 
dered tone. 

"Yes, young Master, I found her dead, and with every ap- 
pearance of having had a severe struggle." 

I then told him about the leeching process, how the doctor 
had acted, &c. 

"Murdered ! She was most cruelly murdered!" he murmured 
to himself. 

In the excitement of conversation he had elevated his tone a 
good deal, and the fearful news reached the ears of Lindy, and 
she shrieked out, 

" Is Aunt Polly dead ? Oh, tell me, for I thinks I sees her 
sperit now." 

Then such entreaties as she made to get out were agonizing 
to hear. 

" Oh, if you can't let me out, don't leave me I Oh, don't leave 
me, Ann! I is so orful skeered. I do see such terrible sights, 
and it 'pears like when you is here talking, dem orful things 
don't come arter me." 

"You go, Ann, and watch with Aunt Polly's body; I will 
stay here with this poor creature." 

"What, you, young master; no, no, you shall not, it will kill 
you. Your cough will increase, and it might prove fatal. No, 
I will stay here." 

''But who will watch with Aunt Polly ?" 

" I will awaken Amy, and make her keep guard." 

" No, she is too young, lacks nerve, will be frightened ; be- 
sides, you must not be found here in the morning. You would 
be severely punished for it. Go now, good Ann, and leave me 
here." 

"No, young master, I cannot leave you to what I am sure 
will be certain death." 

" That would be no misfortune to me." 



f 



THE MIDNIGHT WATCH. 



159 



And I shall never forget the calm and half- glorified expres- 
sion of his face, as he pronounced these words. 

" Go, Ann/' he continued, "leave me to watch and pray beside 
this forlorn creature, and, if the Angel of Death spreads his 
wings on this midnight blast, I think I should welcome him ; 
for life, with its broken promises and its cold humanity, sickens 
me — oh so much.'' 

And his beautiful head fell languidly on his breast; and again 
I listened to that low, husky cough. To-night it had an unusual 
sound, and, forgetful of the humble relation in which I stood to 
him, I grasped his arm firmly but lovingly, saying, 

** Hark to that cough I Now you m^ist go in." 

" No, I cannot. I know best; besides, since nothing less 
gentle will do, I needs must use authority, and command you 
to go." 

" I would that you did not exercise your authority against 
yourself." 

But he waved me off. Keluctantly I obeyed him. Again I 
entered the cabin and roused Amy, who slept on a pallet or heap 
of straw at the foot of the bed, Avhere the still, unbreathing form 
of my old friend lay. It was difficult to awake her, for she was 
always wearied at night, and slept with that deep soundness pe- 
culiar to healthful childhood ; but, after various shakes, I con- 
trived to make her open her eyes and speak to me. 

Come Amy," I said, rouse, I want you to help me." 

" In what way and what fur you wake me up ?" she said as 
she sat upright on the straw, and began rubbing her eyes. 
Never mind, but you get up and I will tell you." 

When she was fairly awake, she assisted me in lifting in a 
large tub of water. 

** Oh, is Aunt Polly any sicker ?" she inquired. 
Amy, she is dead." 

*' Oh, Lord, den I ain't gwine to hope you, bekase Ps afeared 
ob a dead body." 

" It can't harm you." 



160 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Yes it ken ; anyhow, I is feared ob it, and I ain't gwine to 
hope you.'^ 

Well, you need not touch her, only sit up with me whilst I 
wash her and dress her nicely." 
^' Well, 111 do dat much.'' 

Accordingly, she crouched down in the corner and concealed 
her face with her hands, whilst I proceeded to wash the body 
thoroughly and dress it out in an old faded calico, which, in life, 
had constituted her finest robe. Bare and undecked, but clean, 
appeared that tabernacle of flesh, which had once enshrined a 
tried but immortal spirit. When all was finished, I seated my- 
self near the partly-opened door, and waited for the coming of 
day. Ah, when was the morn of glad freedom to break f »r me ? 



CHAPTEE XIX. 



SYMPATHY CASTETH OUT FEAR — CONSEQUENCE OF THE NIGHT'S 
WATCH — TROUBLED REFLECTIONS. 

Morn did break, bright and clear, over the face of the sleeping 
earth ! It was a still and blessed hour. Man, hushed from his 
rushing activity, lay reposeful in the arms of " Death's counter- 
feit — sleep." All animated nature was quiet and calm, till, sud- 
denly, a gush of melody broke from the clear throats of the 
wildwood birds and made the air vocal. Another day was 
dawning ; another day born to witness sins and cruelties the 
most direful. Do we not often wonder why the sky can smile 
Fo blue and lovingly, when such outrages are enacted beneath 
it ? But I must not anticipate. 

As soon as the sun had fairly risen I knocked at the house- 
door, which was opened by Miss Bradly, whose languid face and 
crumpled dress, proved that she had taken no rest during the 
night. Bidding her a polite good-morning, I inquired if the 
ladies had risen ? She answered that they were still asleep, 
and had rested well during the night. I next inquired for mas 
ter's health. 

" Oh," said she, " I think he is well, quite well again. He 
slept soundly. I think he only suffered from a violent and 
sudden mental excitement. A good night's rest, and a sedative 
that I administered, have restored him ; but to-day^ oh, to-day^ 
how I do dread to-day." 

To the latter part of this speech I made no answer ; for, of 
late, I had learned to distrust her. Even if her belief was right, 
I could not recognize her as one heroic enough to promulgate it 

[1611 



162 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



from the house-tops. I saw in her only a weak, servile soul, 
drawn down from the lofty purpose of philanthropy, seduced by 
the charm of vile lucre." Therefore I observed a rigid silence. 
Feeling a little embarrassed, I began playing with the strings 
of my apron, for I was fearful that the expression of my face 
might betray what was working in my mind. 
" What is the matter, Ann V* 

This recalled the tragedy that had occurred in the cabin, and 
I said, in a faltering tone, 

Death has been among us. Poor Aunt Polly is gone.'* 

" Is it possible ? When did she die ? Poor old creature !" 
She died some time before midnight. When I left the 
house I was surprised to find her still sleeping, so I thought 
perhaps she was too sluggish, and, upon attempting to arouse 
her, I discovered that she was dead !" 

" Why did you not come and inform me ? I would have 
assisted you in the last sad offices." 

" Oh, I did not like to disturb you. I did everything very 
well myself." 

Johnny and I sat up all night ; that is, I suppose he was up, 
though he left the room a little after midnight, and has not since 
returned. I should not wonder if he has been walking the bet- 
ter part of the night. He so loves solitude and the night-time — 
but then," she added, musingly he has a bad cough, and it 
may be dangerous. The night was chilly, the atmosphere 
heavy. What if this imprudence should rapidly develop a 
fearful disease she seemed much concerned. 

" I will go," said she, and search for him but ere these 
words had fairly died upon her lips, we were startled by a 
cough, and, looking up, we beheld the subject of our conversa- 
tion within a few steps of us. Oh, how wretchedly he was 
changed ! It appeared as if the wreck of years had been ac- 
complished in the brief space of a night. Haggard and pale, 
with his eyes roving listlessly, dark purple lines of unusual 
depth surrounding them, and with his bright^ gold hair, heavy 
with the dew, and hanging neglected around his noble head, 



THE HEMORRHAGE. 



163 



even his clear, pearl-like complexion appeared dark and discol- 
ered. 

"Where have you been, Johnny 1" asked Miss Bradly. 

" To commune with the lonely and comfort the bound ; at the 
door of the * lock-up/ our miniature Bastile, I have spent the 
night.'' Here commenced a paroxysm of coughing, so violent 
that he was obliged to seat himself upon the door-sill. 
Oh, Johnny," exclaimed the terrified lady. 

But as he attempted to check her fears, another paroxysm, 
still more frightful, took place, and this time the blood gushed 
copiously from his mouth. Miss Bradly threw her arms ten- 
derly around him, and, after a succession of rapid gushes of 
blood, his head fell languidly on her shoulder, like a pale, broken 

lily ! 

I instantly ran to call up the ladies, when master approached 
from his chamber ; seeing young master lying so pale, cold, and 
insensible in the arms of Miss Bradly, he concluded he was 
dead, and, crying out in a frantic tone, he asked, 
In h — Vs name, what has happened to my boy 

" He has had a violent hemorrhage,'' replied Miss Bradly, 
with an ill-disguised composure. 

The sight of the blood, which lay in puddles and clots over 
the steps, increased the terror of the father, and, frantically 
seizing his boy in his arms, he covered the still, pale face with 
kisses. 

" Oh, my boy ! my boy ! how much you are like her ! This 
is her mouth, eyes, and nose, and now you 'pears jist like she 
did when I seed her last. These limbs are stiff and frozen. 
It can't be death ; no, it can't be. I haven't killed you, too — 
say. Miss Bradly, is he dead V 

" No, sir, only exhausted from the violence of the paroxysm, 
and the copious hemorrhage, but he requires immediate medical 
treatment ; send, promptly, for Dr. Mandy." 

Master turned to me, saying, 

" Gal, go order Jake to mount the swiftest horse, and ride 



164 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



for life and death to Dr. Mandy ; tell him to come instantly, 
my son is dying." 

I obeyed, and, with all possible promptitude, the message 
was dispatched. Oh, how different when his son was ill. Then 
you could see that human life was valuable ; had it been a 
negro, he would have waited until after breakfast before send- 
ing for a doctor. 

Mr. Peterkin bore his son into the house, placed him on the 
bed, and, seating himself beside him, watched with a tender- 
ness that I did not think belonged to his harsh nature. 

In a very short time Jake returned vrith Dr. Mandy, who, 
after feeling young master's pulse, sounding his chest, and ap- 
plying the stethescope, said that he feared it was an incipient 
form of lung-fever. We had much cause for apprehension. 
There was a perplexed expression upon the face of the doctor, 
a tremulousness in his motions, which indicated that he was in 
great fear and doubt as to the case. He left some powders, to 
be administered every hour, and, after various and repeated in- 
junctions to Miss Bradly, who volunteered to nurse the patient, 
he left the house. 

After taking the first powder, young master lay in a deep, 
unbroken sleep As I stood by his bedside I saw how 
altered he was. The cheek, which, when he was walking, had 
seemed round and full, was now shrunk and hollow, and a fiery 
spot burned there like a living coal ; and the dark, purple ring 
that encircled the eyes, and the sharp contraction of the thin 
nostril, were to me convincing omens of the grave. Then, too, 
the anxious, care-written face of Miss Bradly tended to deepen 
my apprehension. How my friends were falling around me ! 
Xow, just when I was beginning to live, came the fell destroyer 
of my happiness. Happiness ? Oh, does it not seem a mockery 
for the slave to employ that word ? xVs if he had anything to do 
with it ! The slave, who owns nothing, ay, literally nothing. 
His wife and children are all his master's. His very wearing 
apparel becomes another's. He has no right to use it, save as 
he is advised by his owner. Go, my kind reader, to the hotels 



THE COMMUNICATION. 



165 



of the South and South-Ts^est, look at the worn and dejected 
countenances of the slaves, and tell me if you do not read 
misery there. Look in at the saloons of the restaurants, coffee- 
houses, &c., at late hours of the night ; there you will see them, 
tired, worn and weary, with their aching heads bandaged up, 
sighing for a few moments' sleep. There the proud, luxurious, 
idle whites sip their sherbets, drink wine, and crack their ever- 
lasting jokes, but there must stand your obsequious slave, with 
a smile on his face, waiter in hand, ready to attend to Master's 
slightest wish." No matter if his tooth is aching, or his child 
dying, he must smile, or be flogged for gruffness. This " chat- 
tel personal," though he bear the erect form of a man, has no 
right to any privileges or emotions. Oh, nation of the free, how 
long shall this be ? Poor, suffering Africa, country of my 
sires, how much longer upon thy bleeding shoulders must the 
cross be pressed ! Is there no tomb where, for a short space, 
thou shalt lie, and then, bursting the bonds of night and 
death, spring up free, redeemed and regenerate ?" 

" Oh, will he die ?" I murmured, he who reconciles me to 
my bondage, who is my only friend ? Another affliction I can- 
not bear ; I've been so tried in the furnace, that I have not 
strength to meet another." 

Those thoughts passed through my brain as I stood beside 
young master ; but the entrance of Mr. Peterkin diverted them, 
and, stepping up to him, I said, " Master, Aunt Polly is dead." 

"You lie !" he thundered out. 
No, Mr. Peterkin, the old woman is really dead," said Miss 
Bradly, in a kind but mournful tone. 

•* Who killed her ?" again he thundered. 

Ay, who did kill her ? Could I not have answered, " Thou 
art the man"? But I did not. Silently I stood before him, 
never daring to trust myself with a word. 

What time did she kick the bucket ?" asked Mr. Peterkin, 
in one of the favorite Kentucky vulgarisms, whereby the most 
solemn and awful debt of nature is ridiculed by the unthinking. 



166 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



I told him how I had found her, what I had done, &c., all of 
which is known to the reader. 

I believe h — 1 is loose among the niggers. Now, here's 
Poll had to die bekase she couldn't cut any other caper. I 
might have made a sight o' money by her sale ; and she, old 
fool, had to cut me outen it. Wal, I'll only have to sell some 
of the others, fur I's bound to make up a sartin sum of money 
to pay to some of my creditors in L ." 

This speech was addressed to Miss Bradly, upon whom it 
made not half the impression that it did upon me. How I 
hoped I should be one, for if young master, as I began to be- 
lieve, should die soon, the place would become to me more 
horrible than a tiger's den. Any change was desirable. 

"When the young ladies rose from their beds I went in to 
attend on them, and communicated the news of young master's 
illness and Aunt Polly's death. For their brother they ex- 
pressed much concern, but the faithful old domestic, who had 
served them so long, was of no more consequence than a dog. 
Miss Jane did seem provoked to think that she "had died on 
their hands," as she expressed it. *^ If pa had sold her months 
ago, we might have had the money, or something valuable, but 
now we must go to the expense of furnishing her with a coffin." 

" Coffin ! hoity-toity ! Father's not going to give her a coffin, 
an old store-box is good enough to put her old carcass in.'^ And 
thus they spoke of one of God's dead. 

Usually persons respect those upon whom death has set his 
ghastly signet ; but these barbarians (for such I think they 
must have been) spoke with an irreverence of one whose body 
lay still and cold, only few steps from them. To some people 
no thing or person is sacred. 

After breakfast I waited in great anxiety to hear how and 
when master intended to have Aunt Polly buried. 

I had gone into the little desolate cabin, which was now con- 
secrated by the presence of the dead. There she lay, cold and 
ashen ; and the long white strip that I had thrown over her was 
too thin to conceal the face. It was an old muslin curtain that 



DEATH. 



167 



T bad found in looking over the boxes of the deceased, and out 
of respect had flung it over the remains. So rigid and hard- 
set seemed her features in that last, deep sleep, so tightly 
locked were those bony fingers, so mournful looked the straight- 
ened, stiffened form, so devoid of speculation the half-closed 
eyes, that I turned away with a shudder, saying inwardly : 

" Oh, death, thou art revolting!'' Yet when I bethought me 
of the peace passing human understanding into which she had 
gone, the safe bourne that she had attained, where the wicked 
cease from troubling and the weary are at rest when I thought 
of this, death lost its horror, and the grave its gloom. Oh, 
Eternity, problem that the living can never solve. Oh, death, 
full of victory to the Christian ! wast thou not, to my old and 
weary friend, a messenger of sweet peace ; and was not the 
tomb a gateway to new and undreamed-of happiness ? Yes, so 
will I believe ; for so believing am I made joyful. 

Relieved thus by faith from the burden of grief, I moved 
gently about the room, trying to bring something like order to 
its ragged appearance ; for Jake, who had been dispatched for 
Doctor Mandy to come and see young master, had met on the 
way a colored preacher, to whom he announced Aunt Polly's 
death, and who had promised to come and preach a funeral ser- 
mon, and attend the burial. This was to the other negroes a 
great treat ; they regarded a funeral as quite a gala occasion, 
inasmuch as we had never had such a thing upon the farm. I 
had my own doubts, though I did not express them, whether 
master would permit it. 

Young master still slept, from the strong effects of the sleep- 
ing potion which had been administered to him. Miss Bradly, 
overcome by the night's watching, dozed in a large chair beside 
the bed, and an open Bible, in which she had been reading, lay 
. upon her lap. The blinds were closed, but the dim light of a 
small fire that blazed on the hearth gave some appearance of 
life to the room. Every one who passed in and out, stepped on 
tip-too, as if fearful of arousing the sleeper. 

Oh, the comfort of a white skin ! No darkened room, no 



168 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



comfortable air, marked the place where she mj friend had died. 
No hushed dread nor whispered voice paid respect to the cabin- 
room where lay her dead body ; but, thanks to God, in the 
morning of the resurrection we shall come forth alike, regardless 
of the distinctions of color or race, each one to render a faithful 
account of the deeds done in the body. 

Mr. Peterkin came to the kitchen-door, and called Xace, 
saying : 

" Where is that old store-box that the goods and domestics 

for the house was fetched home in, from L , last fall?" 

It's in de smoke-house, Masser." 
Wal, go git it, and bury ole Poll in it." 
" It's right dirty and greasy. Master/' I ventured to say. 
Who keres if 'tis? What right has you to speak, slut?" 
and he gave me a violent kick in the side with his rough brogan. 

Take that for yer imperdence. Who tole you to put yer 
mouth in ?" 

Nace and Dan soon produced the box, which had no top, and 
was dirty and greasy, as it well might be from its year's lodg- 
ment in the meat-house. 

Now, go dig a hole and put Poll in it." 

As master was turning away, he was met by a neatly-dressed 
black man, who wore a w'hite muslin cravat and white cotton 
gloves, and carried two books in his hand. He had an humble, 
reverent expression, and I readily recognized him as the free 
colored preacher of the neighborhood — a good, religious man. 
God-fearing and God-serving. No one knew or could say aught 
against him. How I did long to speak to him ; to sit at his 
feet as a disciple, and learn from him heavenly truths. 

As master turned round, the preacher, with a polite air, took 
off his hat, saying : 

" Your servant. Master." 
What do you want, nigger ?" 

" Why, Master, I heard that one of your servants was dead, 
and I come to ask your leave to convene the friends in a short 
prayer-meeting, if you will please let us." 



THE PREACHER. 



169 



jSTo, I be d d if you shall, you rascally free nigger ; if 

you don't git yourself off my place, I'll git my cowhide to you. 
I wants none of yer tom-foolery here." 

I beg Master's pardon, but I meant no harm. I generally 
go to see the sick, and hold prayer over the dead." 

You doesn't do it here ; and now take your dirty black hide 
away, or it will be the worse for you." 

Without saying one word, the mortified preacher, who had 
meant well, turned away. I trust he did as the apostles of old 
were bidden by their Divine Master to do, shook the dust 
from his feet against that house. Oh, coarse and sense-bound 
man, you refused entertainment to an "angel, unawares." 

" Well, I sent that prayin' rascal a flyin' quick enough ;'^ and 
with this self-gratulatory remark, he entered the house. 

Nace and Jake carried the box into the cabin, preceded by 
me. 

Most reverently I laid away the muslin from the face and 
form; and lifting the head, while Nace assisted at the feet, we 
attempted to place the body in the box, but found it impossible, 
as the box was much too short. Upon Nace's representing this 
difficulty to Mr. Peterkin, he only replied ; 

Wal, bury her on a board, without any more foolin' 
'bout it." 

Tbis harsh mandate was obeyed to the letter. With great 
expedition, Nace and Jake dug a hole in the earth, and laid a 
few planks at the bottom, upon which I threw an old quilt, and 
on that hard bed they laid her. Good and faithful servant, 
even in death thou wast not allowed a bed ! Over the form I 
spread a covering, and the men laid a few planks, box-fashion, 
over that, and then began roughly throwing on the fresh earth. 

Dust to dust," I murmured, and, with a secret prayer, turned 
from her unmarked resting-place. Mr. Peterkin expressly or- 
dered that it should not have a gi^ave shape, and so it was 
patted and smoothed down, until, save for the moisture and 
fresh color of the earth, you could not have known that the 
ground had ever been broken. 



CHAPTEE XX. 

THE TRADER — A TERRIBLE FRIGHT — POWER OF PRAYER 

GRIEF OF THE HELPLESS. 

About noon a gaudily-dressed and rongh-looking man rode 
up to the gate, and alighted from a fine bay horse. With that 
free and easy sort of way so peculiar to a certain class of man- 
kind, he walked up the avenue to the front door. 

" Gal," he said, addressing me, whar's yer master ?" 
In the house. "Will you walk in ?" 

*'No, it is skersely worth while ; jist tell him that me, Bill 
Tompkins, wants to see him ; but stay,'' he added, as I was 
turning to seek my master, "is you the gal he sold to me yes- 
terday ?" 

''I don't know, sir." 

" Wal, you is devilish likely. Put out yer foot. Wal, it is 
nice enuff to belong to a white 'ooman. You is a bright-colored 
mulatto. I 7nust have you." 

" Heavens I I hope not," was my half-uttered expression, as 
I turned away, for I had caught the meaning of that lascivious 
eye, and shrank from the threatened danger. Though I liad 
been cruelly treated, yet had I been allowed to retain my per- 
son inviolate ; and I would rather, a thousand-fold, have endured 
the brutality of Mr. Peterkin, than those loathsome looks which 
I felt betokened ruin. 

" Master, a man, calling himself Bill Tompkins, wishes to see 
you," said I, as I entered his private apartment. 

" Can't yer say Mr. Tompkins ?" 
He told me to tell you Bill Tompkins ; I only repeat his 
words." 

Whar is he?'' 

[170] 



FEAR. 



171 



" At the front door." 

" Didn't yer ax him in, hussy ?" 
Yes, sir, but he refused, saying it was not worth while." 

" Oh,'' thought I, when left alone, " am I sold to that mon- 
ster ? Am I to become so utterly degraded ? "No, no ; rather 
than yield my purity I will give up my life, and trust to God 
to pardon the suicide." 

In this state of mind I wandered up and down the yard, into 
the kitchen, into the cabin, into the room where young master 
lay sleeping, into the presence of the young ladies, and out 
again into the air ; yet my curious, feverish restlessness, could 
not be allayed. A trader was in the house — a bold, obscene 
man, and into his possession I might fall ! Oh, happy indeed 
must be those who feel that he or they have tlie exclusive cus- 
tody of their own persons ; but the poor negro has nothing, not 
even — save in rare cases — the liberty of choosing a home. 

I had not dared, since daylight, to go near the lock-up/' 
for a fearful punishment would have been due the one whom 
Mr. Peterkin found loitering there. 

I was so tortured by apprehension, that my eyes burned and 
my head ached. I had heard master say that the unlooked-for 
death of Aunt Polly would force him to sell some of the other 
slaves, in order to realize a certain sum of money, and Tomp- 
kins had expressed a desire for me. It was likely that he 
would offer a good price ; then should I be lost. Oh, heavenly 
Virtue ! do not desert me ! Let me bear up under the fiercest 
trials ! 

I had wandered about, in this half-crazed manner, never dar- 
ing to venture within " ear-shot" of master and Mr. Tompkins, 
fearing that the latter might, upon a second sight of me, have 
the fire of his wicked passions aroused, and then my fate would 
be sealed. 

I determined to hide in the cabin, to pray there, in the room 
that had been hallowed by the presence of God's angel of 
Death ; but there, cowering on the old brick hearth, like a hen 
with her brood of chickens, I found, to my surprise, Amy, with 



172 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



little Ben in her arms, and tlie two girls crouched close to her 
side, evidently feeling that her presence was sufficient to protect 
them. 

Lor', Ann,'' said Amy, her wide eyes stretched to their 
utmost tension, *'thar is a trader talkin' wid Masser; I won'er 
whose gwine to be sole. I hope tain't us.'' 

I didn't dare reply to her. I feared for myself, and I feared 
for her. 

Kneeling down in the corner of the cabin, I besought mercy 
of the All-merciful ; but somehow, my prayers fell back cold 
upon my heart. God seemed a great way off, and I could not 
realize the presence of angels. Oh," I cried, ''for the uplift- 
ing faith that hath so often blest me ! oh for the hopefulness, 
the trustingness of times past ! Why, why is the gate of heaven 
shut against me ? Why am I thus self-bound ? Oh, for a wider, 
broader and more liberal view ! But I could not pray. Great 
God ! had that last and only soul-stay been taken from me ? 
With a black hopelessness gathering at my heart, I arose from 
my knees, and looked round upon those desolate orphans, 
shrinking terror-stricken, hiding away from the merciless pursuit 
of a giant; and then I bethought me of my own desolation, and 
I almost arraigned the justice of Heaven. Most wise Father ! 
pardon me ! Thou, who wast tempted by Satan, and to whom 
the cup of mortality was bitter, pity me and forgive ! 

Turning away from the presence of those pleading children 
I entered the kitchen, and there Avere Jake and Dan, terror 
written on their strong, hard faces ; for, no matter how hard is 
the negro's present master, he always regards a change of owners 
as entailing new dangers ; and no wonder that, from education 
and experience, he is thus suspicious, for so many troubles have 
come and do come upon him, that he cannot imagine a change 
whereby he is to be benefited. 

Has you hearn anything, Ann ?" asked Dan, with his great 
flabby lips hanging loosely open, and his eyes considerably dis- 
tended. 

Nothing." 



EXAMINATION. 



173 



Who's gwine to be sole asked Jake. 
I don't know ?" 
Hope tisn't me." 
''And hope tisn't me," burst from the lips of both of them, and 
to this my heart gave a fervent though silent echo. 

" He is de one dat's bought Lindj/' said old Nace, who now 
entered, and Masser's gwine to sell some de rest ob yer." 

Why do yer say de rest ob yer ? Why mayn't it be you ?" 
asked Dan. 

Bekase he ain't gwine to sell me, ha ! ha ! I sarved him too 
long fur dat." 

Ginsy and Sally came rushing in, frightened, like all the rest, 
exclaiming, 

" Oh, we's in danger ; a nigger-trader is talkin' wid master.'* 

We had no time for prolonged speculation, for the voice of 
Mr. Peterkin was heard in the entry, and, throwing open the 
door, he entered, followed by Tompkins. 

Here's the gang, and a devilish good-lookin' set they is." 

" Yes, but let me fust see the one I have bought." 
Here, Nace," said master, take this key, and tell Lindy to 
dress herself and come here." The last part of this sentence 
was said in an under-tone. 

In terror I fled from the kitchen. Scarcely knowing what I 
did, I rushed into the young ladies' room, into which Nace had 
conducted Lindy, upon whom they were placing some of their 
old finery. A half-worn calico dress, gingham apron and white 
collar, completed the costume. T never shall forget the expres- 
sion of Lindy 's face, as she looked vacantly around her, hunting 
for sympathy, yet finding none, from the cold, haughty faces 
that gazed upon her. 

*'Xow go," said Miss Jane, and try to behave yourself in 
your new home." 

Good-bye, Miss Jane," said the humbled, weeping negro. 

*^ Good-bye," was coldly answered ; but no hand was extended 
to her. 

Good-bye, Miss Tildy." 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Miss Tildy, who was standing at tlie glass arranging her 
hair, never turned round to look upon the poor wretch, but care- 
lessly said, 

Good-bye/' 

She looked toward me ; her lip was quivering and tears were 
rolling down her cheeks. I turned my head away, and she 
walked off with the farewell unspoken. 

Quickly I heard Jake calling for me. Then I knew that my 
worst fears were on the point of realization. With a timid, hesi- 
tating step, I walked to the kitchen. There, ranged in single 
file, stood the servants, with anxious faces, where a variety of 
contending feelings were written. I nerved myself for what I 
knew was to follow, and stepping firmly up, joined the pha- 
lanx. 

That's the one," said Tompkins, as he eyed me with that 
same look. There he stood, twirling a heavy bunch of seals which 
depended from a large, curiously-wrought chain. He looked 
more like a fiend than a man. 

" This here one is your'n," said Mr. Peterkin, pointing to 
Lindy; and, gal, that gentleman is yer master 

Lindy dropped a courtesy to him, and tried to wipe away her 
tears ; for experience had taught her that the only safe course 
was to stifle emotions. 

Here, gal, open yer mouth," Tompkins said to Lindy. She 
obeyed. 

" Now let me feel yer arms." 

He then examined her feet, ankles, legs, passed his hands over 
various parts of her body, made her walk and move her limbs 
in different ways, and then, seemingly satisfied with the bargain, 
said, 

" Wal, that trade is closed." 

Looking toward me, his dissolute eyes began to glare furi- 
ously. Again my soul quailed; but I tried to govern myself, 
and threw upon him a glance as cold as ice itself 

** What will you take for this yallow gal ?" he said, as he laid 
his hand upon my shoulder. I shrank beneath his touch ; yet 



FRIGHT. 



175 



resistance would only have made the case worse, and I was 
compelled to submit. 

" I ain't much anxious to sell her ; she is my darter Jane's 
waitin' 'ooman, and, you see, my darters are putty much stuck 
up. They thinks they must have a waitin'-maid ; but, if you 
offer a far price, maybe we will close in.'' 

" Wal, as she is a fancy article, I'll jist say take twelve 
hundred dollars, and that's more an' she's actilly worth ; but I 
wants her fur my own use ; a sorter private gal like, you knows," 
and he gave a lascivious blink, which Mr. Peterkin seemed to 
understand. I felt a deep crimson suffuse my face. Oh, God ! 
this was the heaviest of all afflictions. Sold ! and for sucli a 
purpose ! 

I reckon the bargain is closed, then," said Mr. Peterkin. 

I felt despair coiling around my heart. Yet I knew that to 
make an appeal to their humanity would be worse than idle. 

" Who, which of them have you sold, father ?" asked Miss 
Jane, who entered the kitchen, doubtless for the humane object 
of witnessing the distress of the poor creatures. 

" Wal, Lindy's sold, and we are 'bout closing the bargain 
for Ann." 

" Why, Ann belongs to me." 

" Yes, but Tompkins offers twelve hundred dollars ; and six 
hundred of it you shill have to git new furniture." 

" She shan't go for six thousand. I want an accomplished 
maid when I go up to the city, and she just suits me. Re- 
member I have your deed of gift." 

This relieved me greatly, for I understood her determina- 
tion ; and, though I knew all sorts of severity would be exer- 
cised over me in my present home, I felt assured that my honor 
would remain unstained. 

The trader tried to persuade and coax Miss Jane ; but she 
remained impervious to all of his importunities. 

Wal, then," he said, after finding she would yield to no 
argument, " haven't you none others you can let me have ? I 
am 'bliged to fill up my lot." 



176 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Wal, since my darter won't trade nohow, I must try and 
let you have some of the others, though I don't care much 
'bout sellin'." 

Mr. Peterkin was what was called tight on a trade ; now, 
though he was anxious enough to sell, he affected to be perfectly 
indifferent. This was what would be termed an excellent ruse 
de guerre. 

If you want children, I think we can supply you,'' said 
Miss Jane, and, looking round, she asked, 
*^ Where are Amy and her sisters ?" 

My heart sank within me, and, though I knew full well 
where they were, I would not speak. 

Little Jim, the son of Ginsy, cried out, 
Yes, I know where dey is. I seed em in dar." 

" Well, run you young rascal, and tell 'em to come here in a 
minnit,'' said Mr. Peterkin ; and away the boy scampered. In 
a few moments he returned, followed by Amy, who was bear- 
ing Ben in her arms ; and, holding on to her skirts, were the 
two girls, terror limned on their dark, shining faces. 

" Step up here to this gentleman. Amy, and say how would 
you like him for a master ?" said Mr. Peterkin. 

" Please, sir,'' replied Amy, I don't kere whar I goes, so I 
takes these chillen wid me." 

" I do not want Amy to be sold. Sell the children, father ; 
but let us keep Amy for a house-girl." Cold and unfeeling 
looked the lady as she pronounced these words ; but could 
you have seen the expression of Amy's face! There is no 
human language, no painter's power, to show forth the eye of 
frantic madness with which the girl glared around on all. 
Clutching little Ben tightly, savagely to her bosom, she said no 
word, and all seemed struck by the extreme wildness of her 
manner. 

Let's look at that boy," said the trader, as he attempted to 
unfasten Amy's arms but were locked round her treasure. 
Dont'ee, dont'ee," shrieked the child. 
" Yes, but he will," said Mr. Peterkin, as, with a giant's 



amy's testimony. 



17"/ 



force, lie broke asunder the slight arms, " you imperdent hussy, 
arn't you my property ? mine to do what I pleases with ; and 
do you dar' to oppose me ?" 

The girl said nothing ; but the wild expression began to grow 
■gilder, fiercer, and more frightful. Little Ben, who was not 
accustomed to any kind of notice, and felt at home nowhere 
except in Amy's arms, set up a furious scream ; but this the 
trader did not mind, and proceeded to examine the limbs. 

Something is the matter with this boy, he's got hip-disease ; 
I knows from his teeth he is older than you says.'^ 

*^ Yes," said Amy seizing the idea, " he is weakly, he won't 
do no good widout me ; buy me too, please, Masser," and she 
crouched down at the trader's feet, with her hands thrown up in 
an air of touching supplication ; but she had gone to the wrong 
tribunal for mercy. Who can hope to hna so fair a flower 
blooming amid the dreary brambles of a negro-trader's breast ] 

Tompkins took no other notice of her than to give her a con- 
temptuous kick, as much as to say, thing, get out of my way." 

Turning to Mr. Peterkin he said, 
This boy is not sound. I won't have him at any price," 
and he handed him back to Amy, who exclaimed, in a thrilling 
tone, 

" Thank God ! Bless you, Masser !" and she clasped the shy 
little Ben warmly to her breast. 

Ben, whose intellect seemed clouded, looked wonderingly 
around on the group ; then, as if slowly realizing that he had 
escaped a mighty trouble, clung closer to Amy. 

Look here, nigger-wench, does you think to spile the sale 
of property in that ar' way ] Wal, I'll let you see I'll have 
things my way. No nigger that ever was born, shall dictate 
to me." 

" No, father, I'd punish her well, even if I had to give Ben 
away ; he is no account here, merely an expense ; and do sell 
those other two girls, Amy's sisters." 

Mr. Peterkin then called up Lucy and Janey. I have men- 
tioned these two but rarely in the progress of this book, and for 
8* 



178 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



tlie reason that tlieir little lives were not much interwoven with 
the thread of mine. I saw them often, but observed nothing 
particular about tliera. They were quiet, taciturn, and what is 
usually called stupid children. They, like little Ben, never 
ventured far away from Amy's protecting wing. Now, with a 
shy step and furtive glance toward the trader, they obeyed 
their master's summons. Poor Amy, with Ben clasped to her 
heart, strained her body forward, and looked with stretched 
eyes and suspended breath toward Tompkins, who was examin- 
ing them. 

" Wal, I'll give you three hundred and fifty a-piece for 'em. 
Now, come, that's the highest I'll give, Peterkin, and you 
mustn't try to git any more out of me. You are a hard cus- 
tomer ; but I am in a hurry, so I makes my largest offer right 
away : I ain't got the time to waste. That's more 'an anybody 
else would give for 'em ; but I sees that they has good fingers 
fur to pick cotton, therefore I gives a big price." 

It's a bargain, then. They is yourn ;" and no doubt Mr. 
Peterkin thought he had a good bargain, or he never would 
have chewed his tobacco in that peculiarly self-satisfied man- 
ner. 

Stand aside, then," said the trader, pushing his new pur- 
chases, as if they were a bundle of dry goods. Running up to 
Amy, they began to hold to her skirts and tremble violently, 
scarcely knowing what the words of Tompkins implied. 

Dey ain't sold ?" asked Amy, turning first from one to the 
other; yet no' one answered. Mr. Peterkin and Tompkins 
were too busy with their trade, and the negroes too much ab- 
sorbed in their own fate, to attend to her. For my part I had 
not strength to confirm, her half-formed doubt. There she 
stood, gathering them to her side with a motherly love. 

" What will you give fur this one ?" and Mr. Peterkin pointed 
to Ginsy, who stood with an humble countenance. When 
called up she made a low courtesy, and went through the ex- 
amination. Name and age were given ; a fair price was offered 
for her and her child, and was accepted. 



THE SLAVES. 



179 



" Take this boy for a hundred dollars," said Mr. Peterkin, as 
he jerked Ben from the arms of the half-petrified Amy. 

Wal, he isn't much 'count ; but, rather then seem con- 
trary, I'll give that fur him." 

And thus the trade was closed. Human beings were dis- 
posed of with as little feeling as if they had been wild animals. 

" I'm sorry you won't, young Miss, let me have that maid of 
yourn ; but I'll be 'long next fall, and, fur a good price, I'spect 
you'll be willin' to trade. I wants that yallow wench," and he 
clicked his fingers at me. 

Say, Peterkin, ken you lend me a wagen to take 'em over 
to my pen ?" 

" Oh, yes ; and Nace can drive 'em over." 

Conscious of having got a good price, Mr. Peterkin was in a 
capital humor. 

" Come, go with me, Peterkin, and we'll draw up the papers, 
and I'll pay you your money." 

This was an agreeable sound to master. He ordered Nace to 
bring out the wagon, and the order was hardly given before it 
was obeyed. Dismal looked that red wagon, the same which 
years before had carried me away from the insensible form of 
my broken-hearted mother. It appeared more dark and dreary, 
to me, than a coffin or hearse. 

" Say, Peterkin, don't let 'em take many close ; jist a 
change. It tires 'em too much if they have big bundles to 
carry." 

" They shan't be troubled with that." 

" Now, niggers, git your bundles and come 'long," said 
master. 

*' Oh," cried Lindy, " can I git to see young master before I 
start ? I wants to thank him for de comfort he gib me last 
night,'' and she wiped the tears from her eyes, and was start- 
ing toward the door of the house, when Miss Jane intercepted 
her. 

" No, you runaway hussy, you shan't go in to disturb him, 
and have a scene here," 



180 



AnTORIOnUAPHY OF A FKIMALF. SLAVK. 



" Please, Miss Jane, I only wants to say good-bye." 
" You shan't do it/' 

Mournfully, and with the tears streaming far down her 
cheeks, she turned to me, saying, " Please, you, Ann, tell him 
good-bye fur me, and good-bye to you. I hope you will for- 
give me for all de harm I lias done to you.'' 

I took her hand, but could not speak a word. Silently I 
pressed it. 

Whar's your close, gal asked Tompkins. 
I'm gwine to git 'em." 
" Well, be in a hurry 'bout it." 

She went off to gather up a few articles, scarcely sufficient 
to cover her ; for we were barely allowed a change of clothing, 
and that not very decent. 

Ginsy, leading her child with one hand, while she held in the 
other a small bundle, walked up to Miss Jane, and dropping a 
low courtesy, said, 

" Farewell, ]\riss Jane ; can I see Miss Tildy and young 
master?" 

" No, John is sick, and Tildy can't bo troubled just now." 

Yes, ma'm ; please tell 'em good-bye fur me ; and I hopes 
young Masser will soon be well agin. I'd like to see him afore 
I went, but I don't want to 'sturb him." 

Well, that will do, go on now." 

Tell young ^lasser good-bye," Ginsy said, addressing her 
child. 

" Good-bye," repeated ]\Iiss Jane very carelessly, scarcely 
looking toward them, and they moved away, and sliaking hands 
with the servants, they marched on to the wagon. 

All this time Amy had remained like one transfixed ; little 
Ben held one of her hands, whilst Janey and Luce grasped her 
skirts firmly. These children had no clothes, for, as they per- 
formed no regular labor, they were not allowed a change of ap- 
parel. On a Saturday night, whilst they slept. Amy washed 
out the articles which they had worn during the week ; and 
now, poor things, they had no bundles to be made up. 



THE PURCHASE. 



ISl 



" Come 'long wid yer, young ones/' and Tompkins took 
Ben by the hand ; but he stoutly refused to go, crying out : 
" Go 'way, and let me 'lone." 
** Come on, I'll give you a lump of sugar." 
" I won't, I won't." 

All of them held tightly to Amy, whose vacant face was so 
stony in its deep despair, that it struck terror to my soul. 

" No more fuss," said Mr. Peterkin, and he raised his large 
whip to strike the screaming Ben a blow ; but that motherly in- 
stinct that had taught Amy to protect them thus long, was 
not now dead, and upon her outstretched arm the blow descend- 
ed. A great, fearful gash was made, from which the fresh blood 
streamed rapidly ; but she minded it not. What, to that light- 
ning-burnt soul, were the wounds of the body ? Nothing, aye 
nothing ! 

Oh, don't mark 'em, Peterkin, it will spile the sale," said 
Tompkins. 

" Come 'long now, niggers, I has no more time to wait ;" 
and, with a strong wrench, he broke Ben's arms loose from 
Amy's form, and, holding him firmly, despite his piteous cries, 
he ordered Jake to bring the other two also. This order was 
executed, and quickly Luce and Janey were in the grasp of 
Jake, and borne shrieking to the cart, in which all three of 
them were bound and laid. 

Speechless, stony, petrified, stood Amy. At length, as if 
gifted with a supernatural energy, she leaped forward, as the 
cart drove off, and fell across the path, almost under the feet 
of the advancing horses. But not yet for thee, poor suffering 
child, will come the Angel of Death ! It has been decreed that 
you shall endure and wait a while longer. 

By an adroit check upon the rein, Nace stopped the wagon 
suddenly, and Jake, who was standing near by, lifted Amy up. 

*' Take her to the house, and see that she does herself no 
harm," said Mr. Peterkin. 

Yes, Masser, I will," was the reply of the obsequious Jake. 

And so the cart drove on. I shall never forget the sight ! 



I 

182 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Those poor, down-cast creatures, tied hand and foot, were con- 
veyed they knew not whither. The shrieks and screams of 
those children ring now in my ears. Oh, doleful, most doleful ! 
Why came there no swift execution of that Divine threat, 
Whoso causeth harm to one of these little ones, it were bet- 
ter for him that a mill-stone were hung about his neck and that 
he were drowned in the sea." 



CHAPTEE XXI. 



TOUCHING FAREWELL FULL OF PATHOS — THE PARTING — MY 

GRIEF. 

The half insensible form of Amy was borne by Jake into 
the cabin, and laid upon the cot which had been Aunt Polly's. 
He then closed and secured the door after him. 

Where, all this time, was Miss Bradly ? She, in her terror, 
had buried her head upon the bed, on which young master still 
slept. She tried to drown the sound of those frantic cries that 
reached her^ despite tlie closed door and barred shutter. Oh, 
did they not reach the ear of Almighty love ? 

''Well, I am glad,'' exclaimed Miss Tildy, that it is all over. 
Somehow, Jane, I did not like the sound of those young 
children's cries. Might it not have been well to let Amy go 
too V 

" No, of course not. Now that Lindy has been sold, we 
need a house-girl, and Amy may be made a very good one ; be- 
sides, she enraged me so by attempting to spoil the sale of 
Ben.'' 

" Did she do that ? Oh, well, I have no pity for her." 
" It would be something very new. Till, for you to pity a 
nigger.'' 

" So it would — yet I was weak enough to feel badly when I 
heard the children scream." 
Oh, you are only nervous." 
" I believe I am, and think I will take some medicine." 
" Take medicine," to stifle human pity ! 

"What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug would scour " 
the slaveholder's nature of harshness and brutality ? Could 

6* [183] 



184 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



tliis be found, " I would applaud to the very echo, that should 
applaud again but, alas! there is no remedy for it. Education 
has taught n^^sjiy of them to guard their beloved institution" 
with a sort of patriotic fervor and religious zeal. 

When master returned that evening, he was elated to a won- 
derful degree. Tompkins had paid him a large sum in ready 
cash, and this put him in a good humor with himself and every- 
body else. He almost felt kindly toward the negroes. But I 
looked upon him with more than my usual horror. That great, 
bloated face, blazing now with joy and the eflPect of strong 
drink, was revolting to me. Every expression of delight from 
his lips brought to my mind the horrid troubles he had caused 
by the simple exercise of his tyrannic will upon helpless women 
and children. The humble appearance of Ginsy, the touching 
innocence of her child, the unnoticed silent grief of Lindy, 
the fearful, heart-rending distraction of Amy, the agony of 
her helpless sisters and brother, all rose to my mind when 
I heard Mr. Peterkin's mirthful laugh ringing through the 
house. 

Late in the evening young master roused up. The effect of 
the somnolent draught had died out, and he woke in full pos- 
session of his faculties. Miss Bradly and I were with him when 
he woke. Raising himself quickly in the bed, he asked, 

" What hour is it ]" 

''About half-past six," said Miss Bradly. 
" So late ? Then am I afraid that all is over ! Where is 
Lindy V 

" Try and rest a little more ; then we can talk !" 
''No, I must know nowT 
'* Wait a while lono^er." 
Tell me instantly," he said with a nervous impatience very 
unusual to him. 

" Drink this, and I will then talk to you," said Miss Bradly, 
as she held a cordial to his lips. 

Obediently he swallowed it, and, as he returned the glass, he 
asked, 



DISCUSSION. 



185 



How has this wretched matter terminated ? What has 
become of that unfortunate girl V* 
She has been sold." 
To the trader V 

Yes, but don't talk about it ; perhaps she is better off than 
we think." 

" Is it wise for us thus to silence our sympathies ?" 
*^ Yes, it is, when we are powerless to act." 
" But have we not, each of us, an influence ?" 
Yes, but in such a dubious way, that in cases like the pres- 
ent, we had better not openly manifest it." 

Offensive v/e should never be ; but surely we ought to 
assume a defensive position." 

" Yes, but you must not excite yourself." 
" Don't think of me. Already I fear I am too self-indulged. 
Too much time I have wasted in inaction." 

What could you have done ? And now what can you do ?" 
^* That is the very question that agitates me. Oh, that I 
knew my mission, and had the power to fulfil it !" 

Who of the others are sold ?" he asked, turning to me. 
" Amy's sisters and brother," and I could not avoid tears. 
" Amy, too ?" 
" No, sir.'' 

Oh, Grod, this is too bad ! and is she not half-distracted ?" 
I made no reply, for an admonitory look from Miss Bradly 
warned me to be careful as to what I said. 
Where is father ?" 
** In his chamber." 

" Ann, go tell him I wish to speak with him." 

Before obeying I looked toward Miss Bradly, and, finding 
nothing adverse in her expression, I went to do as he bade. 

Is he any worse ?" master asked, when I had delivered the 
message. 

" No, sir ; he does not appear to be worse, yet I think he is 
very feeble.'^ 

" What right has you to think anything 'bout it ?" he said, as 



186 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



lie took from the mantle a large, black bottle and drank 
from it. 

I made no reply, but followed liim into young master's room, 
and pretended to busy myself about some trifling matter. 
" What is it you want, Johnny 
" Father, you have done a wicked thing 
" "What do you mean, boy 
You have sold Amy^s sisters and brothers away from her.'* 
And what's wicked in selling a nigger ?" 
Hasn't a negro human feeling ?" 
" Why, they don't feel like white people ; of course not." 

That must be proved, father." 
" Oh, now, my bo}^ 'taint no use for yer to be wastin' of yer 
good feelings on them miserable, ongrateful niggers." 

They are not ungrateful ; miserable they are, for they have 
had much misery imposed upon them." 

Oh, 'taint no use of talking 'bout it, child, go to sleep." 
Yes, father, I shall soon sleep soundly enough, in our grave- 
yard." 

Mr. Peterkin moved nervously in his chair, and young mas 
ter continued, 

" I do not wish to live longer. I can do no good here, and 
the sight of so much misery only makes me more wretched. 
Father, draw close to me, I have lost a great deal of blood. 
My chest and throat are very sore. I feel that the tide of life 
ebbs low. I ara going fast. My little hour upon earth is al- 
most spent. Ere long, the great mystery of existence will be 
known to me. A cold shadow, with death-dews on its form, 
hovers round me. I know, by many signs unknown to others, 
that death is now upon me. This difficult and labored speech, 
this failing breath and lilmy eye, these heavy night-sweats — all 
tell me that the golden bowl is about to be broken : the silver 
cord is tightened to its utmost tension. I am young, father ; I 
have forborne to speak to you upon a subject that has lain near, 
near, very near my heart." A violent paroxysm of coughing 
here interrupted him. Instantly Miss Bradly was beside him 



CONSCIENCE. 



187 



with a cordial, whicli he drank mechaiiicallj. " There," he 
continued, as he poised himself upon his elbow, " there, good 
Miss Emily, cordials are of no avail. I do not wish to stay. 
Father, do you not want me to rest quietly in my grave ?" 

I don't want you to go to the grave at all, my boy, my 
boy," and Mr. Peterkin burst into tears. 

Yes, but, father, I am going there fast, and no human power 
can stay me. I shall be happy and resigned, if I can elicit from 
you one promise." 

What promise is that ?" 

" Liberate your slaves." 

''Never !" 
Look at me, father." 

*'Good God!" cried Mr. Peterkin, as his eye met the calm, 
clear, fixed gaze of his son, *' where did you get that look ? heaven 
and h — 1 ! it will kill me ;" and, rushing from the room, he 
sought his own apartment, where he drank long and deeply from 
the black bottle that graced his mantel-shelf. This was his 
drop of comfort. Always after lashing a negro, he drank plenti- 
fully, as if to drown his conscience. Alas ! many another man 
has sought relief from memory by such libations ! Yet these 
are the voters, the noblesse, the lords so superior to the lowly 
African. These are the men who vote for a perpetuation of our 
captivity. Can we hope for a mitigation of our wrongs when 
such men are our sovereigns? Cool, clear- visioned men are 
few, noble philanthropic ones are fewer. What then have we 
to hope for ? Our interests are at war with old establish-ed 
usages. The prejudices of society are against us. The pride 
of the many is adverse to us. All this we have to fight against ; 
and strong must be the moral force that can overcome it. 

Mr. Peterkin did not venture in young master's room for 
several hours after ; and not without having been sent for re- 
peatedly. Meanwhile I sought Amy, and found her lying 
on the floor of the cabin, with her face downwards. She did 
not move when I entered, nor did she answer me when I 



188 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAJVE. 



spoke. I lifted her up, but the hard, stony expression of her 
face, frightened me. 

" Amy, I will be your friend." 
. I don't want any friend/' 
Yes you do, you like me." 
" No I don't, I doesn't like anybody." 
" Amy, God loves you." 
" I doesn't love Him." 
Don't talk that way, child." 
Well, you go off, and let me 'lone." 
"I wish to comfort you." 
" I doesn't want no comfort." 

" Come," said I, ''talk freely to me. It will do you good." 

'' I tells you I doesn't want no good for to happen to me. 
I'd rather be like I is." 

"Amy," and it was with reluctance I ventured to allude 
to a subject so painful ; but I deemed it necessar}^ to excite 
her painfully rather than leave her in that granite-like despair, 

you may yet have your sisters and little brother restored to 
you." 

" How ? how ? and when ?" she screamed with joy, and 
started up, her wild eyes beaming with exultation. 

Don't be so wild," I said, softly, as I took her little, hard 
hand, and pressed it tenderly. 

" But, say, Ann, ken I iver git de chilen back ? Has 
Masser said anything 'bout it ? Oh, it 'pears like too much 
joy fur me to iver know any more. Poor little Ben, it 
'pears like I kan't do nothin' but hear him cry. And may- 
be dey is a beatin' of him now. Oh, Lor' a marcy ! what 
shill I do?" and she rocked her body back and forward in a 
transport of grief. 

There are some sorrows for which human sympathy is una- 
vailing. What to that broken heart were words of condolence ? 
Did she care to know that others felt for her ? that another " 
heart wept for her grief ? No, like Eachel of old, she would 
not be comforted. 



YOUNG MASTER. 



189 



"Oh, Ann!" she added, please leave me by myself. It 
'pears like I kan't get my breath when anybody is by me. I 
wants to be by myself. Jist let me 'lone for a little while, then 
I'll talk to you." 

I understood the feeling, and complied with her request. 

The slave is so distrustful of sympathy, he is so accustomed 
to deception, that he feels secure in the indulgence of his 
grief only when he is alone. The petted white, who has friends 
to cluster round him in the hour of affliction, cannot understand 
the loneliness and solitude which the slave covets as a boon. 

For several days young master lingered on, 'declining visibly. 
The hectic flush deepened upon his cheek, and the glitter of 
his eye grew fearfully bright, and there was that sharp con- 
traction of his features that denoted the certain approach of 
death. His cough became low and even harder, and those 
dreadful night-sweats increased. He lay in a stupid state, half 
insensible from the effects of sedatives. Dr. Mandy, w^ho visited 
him three times a day, did not conceal from Mr. Peterkin the 
fact of his son's near dissolution. 

" Save his life, doctor, and you shall have all I own." 
If my art could do it, sir, I would, without fee, exert my- 
self for his restoration.'^ 

Yet for a poor old negro his art could do nothing unfeed. Do 
ye wonder that we are goaded on to acts of desperation, when 
every day, nay, every moment, brings to our eyes some injus- 
tice that is done us — and all because our faces are dark ? 

" Mislike us not for our complexion, 
The shadow'd livery of the burnish'd sun. 
To whom we are as neighbors, and near bred ; 
Bring us the fairest creature Northward born. 
Where Phoebus' fire scarce thaws the icicles, 
And let us make incision for your love 
To prove whose blood is reddest, his or ours." 

During young master's illness I had but little communication 
with Amy. By Miss Jane's order she had been brought into 



190 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



the house to assist in the dining-room. I gave her all the in- 
struction in my power. She appeared to listen to me, and 
learned well ; yet everything was done with that vacant, un- 
meaning manner, that showed she felt no interest in what she 
was doing. I had never heard her allude to " the children' 
since the conversation just recorded. Indeed, she appeared to 
eschew all talk. At night I had attempted to draw her into 
conversation, but she always silenced me by saying, 
" I'm tired, Ann, and wants to sleep.'' 

This was singular in one so young, who had been reared in 
such a reckless manner. I should have been better satisfied if 
she had talked more freely of her sorrows ; that stony, silent 
agony that seemed frozen upon her face, terrified me more 
than the most volcanic grief; that sorrow is deeply-rooted and 
hopeless, that denies itself the relief of speech. Heaven help 
the soul thus cut off from the usual sources of comfort. Oh, 
young Miss, spoiled daughter of w^ealth, you whose earliest 
breath opened to the splendors of home in its most luxurious 
f()rm ; you who have early and long known the watchful bless- 
ing of maternal love, and whose soft cheek has flushed to the 
praises of a proud and happy father, whose lip has thrilled 
beneath the pressure of a brother's kiss ; you who have slept 
upon the sunny slope of life, have strayed 'mid the flowers, and 
reposed beneath the myrtles, and beside the fountains, where 
fairy fingers have garlanded flowers for your brow, oh, bethink 
you of some poor little negro girl, whom you often meet in your 
daily walks, whose sad face and dejected air you have often 
condemned as sullen, and I ask you now, in the nam.e of sweet 
humanity, to judge her kindly. Look, with a pitying eye, upon 
that face which trouble has soured and abuse contracted. Re- 
press the harsh word ; give her kindness ; 'tis this that she longs 
for. Be you the giver of the cup of cold water in His name. 



CHAPTEE XXII. 



A CONVERSATION — HOPE BLOSSOMS OUT, BUT CHARLESTOWN IS 
FULL OF EXCITABILITY. 

One evening, during young master's illness, when he was 
able to sit np beside the fire, Dr. Mandy came to see him, and, 
as I sat in his room, sewing on some fancy work for Miss Jane, 
I heard the conversation that passed between them. 

" Have you coughed much the doctor asked. 

" A great deal last night." 

" Do the night-sweats continue 

" Yes, sir, and are violent/' 

" Let me feel your pulse. Here — it is very quick — face is 
flushed — high fever." 

Yes, doctor, I am sinking fast.'' 

" Oh, keep up your spirits. I have been thinking that the 
best thing for you would be to take a trip to Havana. This 
climate is too variable for your complaint." 

Young master shook his head mournfully. 
The change of scene,'' the doctor went on, would be of ser- 
vice to you. A healthful excitement of the imagination, and a 
different train of thought, would, undoubtedl}^ benefit you." 

" What in the South could induce a different train of 
thought ? Oh, doctor, the horrid system, that there flourishes 
with such rank power, would only deepen my train of thought^ 
and make me more wretched than I am ; I would not go near 
New Orleans, or pass those dreadful plantations, even to secure 
the precious boon of health." 

You will not see anything of the kind. You will only see 
life at hotels; and there the slaves are all happy and well used. 
Besides, my good boy, the negroes on the plantations are much 
better used than you think; and I assure you they are very 

[191] 



192 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



happy. If you could overhear them laughing and singing of 
an evening, you would be convinced that they are well cared 
for." 

" Ah, disguise thee as thou wilt, yet, Slavery, thou art horrid 
and revolting.'^ 

"You are morbid on the subject.'* 

" No, only humane ; but have I not seen enough to make me 
morbid 

These are subjects upon which I deem it best to say 
nothing. 

That is the invariable argument of self-interest." 
''No, of prudence, Mr. John ; I have no right to quarrel with 
and rail out against an institution that has the sanction of the 
law, and which is acceptable to the interests of my best friends 
and patrons. 

Exactly so ; the whole matter, so vital to the happiness of 
others, so fraught with great humanitarian interests, must be 
quietly laid on the shelf, because it may lose you or me a few 
hundred dollars." 

Not precisely that either ; but, granting, for the sake of hy- 
pothesis only, that slavery is a wrong, what good would all my 
arguments do ? None, but rather an injury to the very cause 
they sought to benefit. You must not exasperate the slave- 
holders. Leave them to time and their own reflections. I be- 
lieve many of the Western States — yes, Kentucky herself — 
would at this moment be free from slavery, if it had not been 
for the officious interference of the North. The people of the 
West and South are hot, fiery and impetuous. They may be 
persuaded and coaxed into a measure, but never driven. All 
this talk and gasconade of Abolitionists have but the tighter 
bound the negroes.'^ 

I am sorry to hear you thus express yourself, for you give 
me a more contemptible opinion of the Southern and Western 
men, or rather the slave-holding class, than I had before. And 
so they are but children, who must be coaxed, begged, and be- 
sugar-plumed into doing a simple act of justice. Have they 



PRO-SLAVERY. 



193 



not the manhood to come out boldly, and say this thing is 
wrong, and that they will no longer countenance it in their 
midst; that they will, for the sake of justice and sympathy with 
humanity, liberate these creatures, whom they have held in an 
unjust and wicked bondage ? Were they to act thus, then 
might they claim for themselves the title of chevaliers/' 

" Yes ; but they take a different view of the subject ; they 
look upon slavery as just and right — a dispensation of Provi- 
dence, and feel that they are as much entitled to their slaves as 
another man is to his house, carriage, or horse/' 

" Oh, how they shut their hearts against the voice of misery, 
and close their eyes to the rueful sigh of human grief. I never 
heard a pro-slavery man who could, upon any reasonable 
ground, defend his position. The slavery argument is not only 
a wicked, but an absurd one. How wise men can be deluded 
by it I am at a loss to understand. Infatuated they must be, 
else they could not uphold a sj^stem as tyrannous as it is 
base." 

* " Well, we will say no more upon this subject," said the doc- 
tor, as Mr. Peterkin entered. 

What's the matter the latter inquired, as he listlessly 
threw himself into a chair. 

Nothing, only Mr. John is not all right on the 'goose,"' re- 
plied Dr. Mandy, with a facetious smile. 

**And not likely to be," said Mr, Peterkin; Johnny has given 
me a great deal of trouble 'bout this matter ; but J hope he will 
outgrow it. 'Tis only a foolish notion. He was 'lowed to 
gad 'bout too much with them ar' devilish niggers, an' so 'bibed 
their quare ideas agin slavery. Xow, in my 'pinion, my niggers 
is a darned sight better off than many of them poor whites at 
the North." 

But are they as free ?" asked young master. 
" No, to be sure they is not," and here Mr. Peterkin ejected 
from his mouth an amount of tobacco-juice that nearly extin- 
guished the fire. 

Woe be unto the man who takes from a fellow-being the 
9 



194 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



priceless right of personal liberty ! " exclaimed young master, 
witli bis fine eyes fervently raised. 

Yes, but everybody don't desarve liberty. Niggers ain't fit 
for to govern 'emselves nohow. They has bin too long 'cus- 
tomed to havin' masters. Them that's \rent to Libory has bin 
of no 'count to 'emselves nor nobody else. I tell yar, niggers 
was made to be slaves, and yer kan't change their 0«^eator s de- 
sign. Why, you see, doctor, a nigger's mind is neier half as 
good as a white man's ;" and Mr. Peterkin conceived this speech 
to be the very best extract of lore and sapience. 

" VThy is not the African mind equal to the Cauc*tsian ?" in- 
quired young master, with that pointed naivete for which he 
was so remarkable. 

" Oh, it tain't no use, Johnny, fur you to be talkin' that ar' 
way. It's all fine enofif in newspapers, but it won't do to bring 
it into practice, 'specially out here in the "West." 

Xo, father, I begin to fear that it is of no avail to talk com- 
mon sense and preach humanity in a community like this." 

** Don't talk any more on this subject," said the doctor; T 
am afraid it does Mr. John no particular good to be so painfully 
excited. I was going to propose to you, Mr. Peterkin, to send 
him South, either on a little coasting trip, or to Havana via Xew 
Orleans. I think this climate is too rigorous and uncertain for 
one of his frail constitution to remain in it during the winter." 

Well, doctor, I am perfectly willin' fur him to go, if I had 
anybody to go with him ; but you see it wouldn't be safe to 
trust him by himself. Xow an idee has jist struck me, which, 
if you'll agree to, will 'zackly suit me. ' Tis for you to go 'long ; 
then he'd have a doctor to rinder him any sarvice he might 
need. Now Doct. if you'll go, I'll foot the bill, and pay you a 
good bonus in the bargain." 

''Well, it will be. a great professional sacrifice; but I'm willing 
to make it for a friend like you, and for a patient in whose re- 
covery or improvement I feel so deeply interested." 

Make no sacrifices for me, dear doctor ; my poor wreck of 
life is not worth a sacrifice ; I can weather it out a little longer 



POWER OF iMUSIC. 



195 



in this region. It requires a stronger air than that of the tropics 
to restore strength to my poor decayed lungs." 

Yes, but you must not despond," said the doctor. 

" No, my boy, you musn't give up. You are too young to 
die. You are my only son, and I can't spare you." Again Mr. 
Peterkin turned uneasily in his chair. 

" But tell me, doctor," he added, " don't you think he is 
growin' stronger ?" 

Why, yes I do ; and if he will consent to go South, I shall 
have strong hope of him." 

" He must consent," exclauned Mr. Peterkin, with a decided 
emphasis. 

" You know my objection, doctor, yet I cannot oppose my 
wish against father s judgment ; so I will go, but 'twill be with- 
out the least expectation of ever again seeing home.^^ 

" Oh, don't, don't, my boy," and Mr. Peterkin's voice faltered, 
and his eyes were very moist. 

Idols of clay !" I thought, **,how frail ye are ; albeit ye are 
manufactured out of humanity's finest porcelain, yet a rude 
touch, a slight jar, and the beautiful fabric is destroyed forever!" 

Mr. Peterkin's treasure, his only son, was wasting slowly, 
inch by inch, before his eyes — dying with sIoav and silent cer- 
tainty. The virus was in his blood, and no human aid could 
check its strides. The father looked on in speechless dread. He 
saw the insidious marks of the incurable malady. He read its 
ravages upon the broad white brow of his son, where the pulsing 
veins lay like tightly-drawn cords ; and on the hueless lip, that 
was shrivelled like an autumn leaf ; in the dilated pupil of that 
prophet-like eye ; in the fiery spot that blazed upon each hollow 
cheek ; and in the short, disturbed breathing that seemed to 
come from a brazen tube ; in all these he traced the omens of 
that stealthy disease that robs us, like a thief in the night-time, 
of our richest treasures. 

" Well, my boy," began Mr. Peterkin, ^' you must prepare to 
start in the course of a few days." 

" I am ready to leave at any moment, father ; and, if we do 



196 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



not start very soon, I am thinking you vvill have to consign me 
to the earth, rather than send me on a voyage pleasure-hunting." 

A bright smile, though mournful as twilight's shadows, flitted 
over the pale face of young master as he said this. 

AYhy, Johnny, you are better this evening," said Miss Brad- 
ly, as she entered the room, rushed up to him, and began patting 
him affectionately on either cheek. 

" Yes, I am better, good Miss Emily; but still feeble, oh so 
feeble ! 3Iy spirits are better, but the restless fire that burns 
eternally here will give me no rest," and he placed his hand 
over his breast. 

Yes, but you must quench that fire." 

'•AYhere is the draught clear and pure enough to quench a 
flame so consuming?" 

" The dew of divine grace can do it." 
Yes, but it descends not upon my dried and burnt spirit." 

Mr. Peterkin turned off, and affected to take no note of this 
little colloquy, whilst Doctor Mandy began to chew furiously. 

The fact is, the Peterkin family had begun to distrust Miss 
Bradly's principles ever since the day young master adminis- 
tered such a reproof to her muffled conscience ; and in truth, I 
believe she had half-declared her opposition to the slave system • 
and they began to abate the fervor of their friendship for her. 
The young ladies, indeed, kept up their friendly intercourse 
with her, though with a modification of their former warmth. 

1 fancied that Miss Bradly looked happier, now that she had 
cast off disguise and stood forth in her true character. That 
cloud of faltering distrust that once hung round her like a filmy 
web, had been dissipated and she stood out, in full relief, with 
the beautiful robe of truth draping and dignifying her nature. 
"Woman, when once she interests herself in the great cause of 
humanity, goes to work with an ability and ardor that put to 
shame the colder and slower action of man. The heart and 
mind co-work, and thus a woman, as if by the dictate of inspira- 
tion, will achieve with a single effort the mighty deed, for the 
attainment of which men spend years in idle planning. Women 



WHERE IS GOD. 



197 



have done much, and may yet achieve more toward the eman- 
cipation and enfranchisement of the world. The historic pages 
glitter with the noble acts of heroic womanhood, and histories 
yet unwritten will, I believe, proclaim the good which they 
shall yet do. Who but the Maid of Orleans rescued her country ? 
Whose hand but woman's dealt the merited death-blow to one 
of France's bloodiest tyranfcs ? In all times, she has been 
most loyal to the highest good. Woman has ever been brave ! 
She was the instrument of our redemption, and the early watcher 
at the tomb of our Lord. To her heart the Saviour's doc- 
trine came with a special welcome message. And I now believe 
that through her agency will yet come the political ransom of 
the slaves ! God grant it, and speed on the blessed day ! 

I now looked upon Miss Bradly with the admiring interest 
with which I used to regard her ; and though I had never had 
from her an explanation of the change or changes through 
which she had passed since that memorable conversation re- 
corded in the earlier pages of this book, I felt assured from the 
fact that young master had learned to love her, that all was 
right at the core of her heart ; and I was willing to forgive her 
for the timidity and vacillation that had caused her to play the 
dissembler. The memorable example of the loving but weak 
Apostle Peter should teach us to look leniently upon all those 
who cannot pass safely through the ordeal of human contempt, 
without having their principles, or at least actions, a little 
warped. Of course there are higher natures, from whose forti- 
tude the rack and the stake can provoke nothing but smiles ; 
but neither good St. Peter nor Miss Bradly were of such ma- 
terial. 

I am going to leave you very soon. Miss Emily." 

And where are you going, John 
" They will send me to the South. As the poor slaves say, 
I'm going down the river f and a sweet smile flitted over that 
gentle face. 

Who will accompany you V 



198 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Father wishes Doctor Mand j to go ; but I fear it will be 
too great a professional sacrifice." 

" Oh, some one must go with you. You shall not go alone.'' 
I do not wish to go at all. I shall see nothing in the South 
to please me. Those magnificent plantations of rice, sugar, and 
cotton, those lordly palaces, embowered in orange trees, those 
queenly magnolia groves, and all the thousand splendors that 
cover the coast with loveliness, will but recall to my mind the 
melancholy fact that slave-labor produces the whole. I shall 
fancy that some poor heart-broken negro man, or some hopeless 
mother or lonely wife watered those fields with tears. Oh, that 
the dropping of those sad eyes had, like the sowing of the 
dragon's teeth, produced a band of armed, bristling warriors, 
strong enough to conquer all the tyrants and liberate the cap- 
tives !" 

" This can never be accomplished suddenly. It must be the 
slow and gradual work of years. Like all schemes of reforma- 
tion, it moves but by inches. Wise legislators have proposed 
means for the final abolition of slavery ; but, thougli none have 
been deemed practicable, I look still for the advent of the day 
when the great sun shall look goldenly down upon the emanci- 
pation of this dusky tribe, and when the word slave shall no- 
where find expression upon the lips of Christian men." 

When do you predict the advent of that millennial day ?" 

" I fear it is far distant ; yet is it pleasant to think that it will 
come, no matter at how remote an epoch.^' 

Distant is it only because men are not thoroughly Christian- 
ized. No man that will willingly hold his brother in bondage is 
a Christian. Moreover, the day is far off in the future, 
because of the ignorant pride of men. They wish to send the 
poor negro away to the unknown land from whence his 
ancestors were stolen. We virtually say to the Africans, 
now you have cult]vated and made beautiful our continent, 
we have no further use for you. You have grown up, it 
is true, beneath the shadow of our trees, you were born upon 
our soil, your early associations are here. Your ignorance pre- 



REFLECTIONS UPON SLAVERY. 



199 



eludes you from tlie knowledge of the excellence of any otlier 
land ; yet for all this we take no care, it is our business to drive 
you hence. Cross the ocean you must. Find a home in a 
strange country ; lay your broad shoulder to the work, and 
make for yourself an interest there. What wonder is it, if 
the poor, ignorant negro shakes his head mournfully, and says : 
'* No, I would rather stay here ; I am a slave, it is true, but 
then I was born here, and here I will be buried. I am tightly 
kept, have a master and a mistress, but then I know what this 
is. Hard to endure, I grant it — but then it is knov/n to me. 
I can bear on a little longer, till death sets me free. Xo, this 
is my native shore ; here let me stay." Their very ignorance 
begets a kind of philosophy that 

Makes them rather bear those ills they have, 
Than fly to others that they know not of." 

Now, why, I ask, have they not as much right to remain 
here as we have ? This is their birthplace as well as ours. 
We are, likewise, descendants of foreigners. If we drive them 
hence, what excuse have we for it ? Our forefathers were not 
the aborigines of this country. As well might the native red 
men say to us : Fly, leave the Western continent, 'tis our 
home ; we will not let you stay here. You have cultivated it, 
now we will enjoy it. Go and labor elsewhere." What would 
we think of this ? Yet such is our line of conduct toward 
those poor creatures, who have toiled to adorn our homes. 
Then again, we allow the Irish, Germans, and Hungarians, to 
dwell among us. Why ban the African 

*' These, my young friend, are c|uestions that have puzzled 
the wisest brains." 

If it entered more into the hearts, and disturbed the brains 
less, it would be better for them and for the slaves.'^ 
• ** Now, come. Miss Emily, Pm tired of hearing you and that 
boy talk all that nonsense. It's time you were both thinking 
of something else. You are too old to be indulgin' of him in 



200 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



that ar' stuff. It will never come to any good. Them ar' nig- 
gers is allers gwine to be slaves, and white folks had better be 
tendin' to what consarns 'emselves." 

Such arguments as the foregoing were carried on every day. 
Meanwhile we, who formed the subject of them, still went on in 
our usual way, half-fed and half-clad, knocked and kicked like 
dogs. 

Amy went about her assigned work, with the same hard-set 
composure with which she had begun. Talking little to any 
one, she tried to discharge her duties with a docility and faith- 
fulness very remarkable. Yet she sternly rebuked all conver- 
sation. I made many efforts to draw her out into a free, sociable 
talk, and was always told that it was not agreeable to her. 

I now had no companionship among those of my own color. 
Aunt Polly was in the grave ; Amy wrapped in the silence of 
her own grief ; and Sally (the successor of Aunt Polly in the 
culinary department) was a sulky, ignorant woman, who did 
not like to be sociable ; and the men, with their beastly in- 
stincts, were objects of aversion to me. So my days and nights 
passed in even deeper gloom than I had ever before known. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 



THF SUPPER ITS CONSEQUENCES — LOSS OF SILVER A LONELY 

NIGHT — AMY. 

The winter was now drawing to a close. The lieavj, dreary 
winter, tliat had hung like an incubus upon my hours, was fast 
drawing to an end. Many a little, tuneful bird came chirping 
with the sunny days of the waning February. Already the sun- 
beam had begun to give us a hint of the spring- warmth ; the 
ice had melted away, and the moistened roofs of the houses be- 
gan to smoke with the drying breath of the sun, and little green 
pods were noticeable upon the dried branches of the forest 
trees. It was on such a day, when the eye begins to look 
round upon Nature, and almost expects to solve the wondrous 
phenomenon of vegetation, that I was engaged arranging Miss 
Jane's wardrobe. I had just done up some laces for her, and 
finished ofP a nice silk morning-dress. She was making exten- 
sive preparations for a visit to the city of L. The protracted 
rigors of the winter and her own fancied ill-health had induced 
her to postpone the trip until the opening of spring. 

It was decided that I should accompany her as lady's maid ; 
arwl the fact is, I was desirous of any change from the wearying 
monotony of my life. 

Young master had been absent during the whole winter. 
Frequent letters from Dr. Mandy (who had accompanied him) 
informed the family of his slowly -improving health ; yet the 
doctor stated in each communication that he was not strong 
enough to write a letter himself. This alarmed me, for I knew 
that he must be excessively weak, if he denied himself the 
gratification of writing to his family. Miss Bradly came to 

[201] 



AtrronKxjij ATnv (U- a fkmai.k si.avi:. 



ihvs ]u)\\Hi\ but soldom ; and then only to infjuiro tlio innvH from 
young mnstcM'. Hor principle's npon tin' slavory qu(*stion had 
bncomo protty woll known in tlio nci^liborhood ; ko \u\y rosi- 
donro tliorn was not tho niont ])loMsnnt. Jnncndoos, of a most 
insnltinfj^ rliarartrr, liad hcvn thrown out, hif^hly prrjudicial to 
hor situation. I'oul slandors wore in busy circulation about 
hor, And she l)ogan to bo a tabocd porson. So I was not sur- 
prised to hear lior t(dl i\[iss .lano that she fliouglit of rcttirning 
to tlio Nortli rnrly in tho sjning. 1 liad no\ (M' ludd any private 
conversation with h(»T sinfo tliat niemor/ible one ; for now that 
lier j)rincipleH y\ vr(^ known, slio was too niurh niarkod for a 
plavo to be allowed to H])eak with her alone. Her sorrowful 
face stru( k nie with j)ity. I kninv her to bo one of tliat tinie- 
porving kind, by >vhoin tho loss of ( nsfe and soci il |) sill >n is 
regarded as the most fcdl disaster. 

As I turned th(> key of Afiss .lant^'s W!n(lroi)e, slu> canu^ into 
tho room, with an unusually excited manner, oxdalminp:, 

" Aju], wher(> is your Aliss Tihly f 

I pon niy answering); that 1 did not know, she hade, me 
and seek her instantly, and say that sln^ wished tr* sp(\'ik with 
her. As I left the room, 1 observed Miss .lanc^ draw a bMter 
from tho folds of hrv dvcn -. Tins was bint ( nnnrjr My 
mother-wit told mo llu^ rest. 

I'indlnjj: Miss Tildy with a book, in a quiet corner of tho 
parlor, I (bdiveriMl Miss .lane's message, and withdrew. Tho 
contentii of Miss .lane's lottor goon became known ; for it was, 
to her, of such an exciting nature, that it couhl m)t be held in 
pocresy. ^Phe letter was from IMr. Sommervllh% and announred 
thai he would pay ]\vv a visit in the course of a few days 

And, for tho next " few days," tho whole house >vas in a 
])rrfoct consternation. All bauds were at work. Carpets were 
taken uj), shaken, and ]nit down again with the " cl(\'vn sidc^'' 
in. Tiii f \\ i<; scoured, windows woro washed; tho sparo bod- 



CLOSE OF A VISIT. 



203 



lected from the green-liousc, and placed upon the mantel. 
Everything looked very nice about the house, and in the kitch- 
en all sorts of culinary preparations had gone on. Cakes, 
cookies, and confections had been made in abundance. As 
Amy expressed it, in her quaintly comical way, ** Christmas is 
comin' again." It was the first and only time since the depar- 
ture of " the children," that I had heard her indulge in any of 
her old drollery. 

At length the **day" arrived, and with it came ]Mr. Suramer- 
ville. Whilst he remained with us, everything went off in the 
way that Miss Jane desired. There were fine dinners, with plenty 
of wine, roast turkey, curry powder, desserts, &c. The silver 
and best china had been brought out, and Mr. Peterkin be- 
haved himself as well as he could. He even consented to use 
a silver fork, which, considering his prejudice against the arti- 
cle, was quite a concession for him to make. 

Time sped on (as it always will do), and brought the end of 
the week, and with it, the end of Mr. Siimmerville's visit. I 
thought, from a certain softening of Miss Jane's eye, and from 
the length of the parting interview, that " matters'^ had been 
arranged between her and Mr. Summcrville. After the last 
adieu had been given, and Miss Jane had rubbed her eyes 
enough with her fine pocket-handkerchief (or, perhaps, in this 
case, it would be well to employ the suggestion of a modern 
author, and say her "lachrymal,") I say, after all was over, 
and Mr. Summerville's interesting form was fairl}^ lost in the 
distance. Miss Tildy proposed that they should settle down to 
their usual manner of living. Accordingly, the silver was all 
rubbed brightly by Amy, whose business it was, then handed 
over to Miss Tildy to be locked up in the bureau. 

For a few weeks matters went on with their usual dullness. 
Master was still smoking his cob-pipe, kicking negroes, and 
blaspheming; and Miss Jane making up little articles for the 
approaching visit to the city. She and Miss Tildy sat a great 
deal in their own room, talking and speculating upon the coming 
joys. Passing in and out, I frequently caught fragments of 



204 



ALTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



conversation that let me into many of their secrets. Thus I 
learned that Miss Jane's chief object in visiting the city was to 
purchase a bridal trousseau, that Mr. Sommerville had pro- 
posed,'' and, of course, been accepted. He lived in the city ; 
so it was decided that, after the celebration of the nuptial rite, 
Miss Tildy should accompany the bride to her new home, and 
remain with her for several weeks. 

Sundry little lace caps were manufactured ; handkerchiefs 
embroidered ; dresses made and altered ; collars cut, and an im- 
mence deal of *' transfering " was done by the sisters Peter- 
kin. 

TTe, of the colored population,'- were stinted even more 
than formerly ; for they deemed it expedient to economize, in 
order to be the better able to meet the pecuniary exigencies of 
the marriage. Thus time wore along, heavily enough for the 
slaves ; but doubtless delightful to the white family. The en- 
joyment of pleasure, like all other prerogatives, they consider- 
ed as exclusively their own. 

Time, in its rugged course, had brought no change to Amy. 
If her heart had learned to bear its bereavement better, or had 
grown more tender in its anxious waiting, we knew it not from 
her word or manner. The same settled, rocky look, the same 
abstracted air, marked her deportment. Xever once had I heard 
her laugh, or seen her weep. She still avoided conversation, 
and was assiduous in the discharge of her domestic duties. If 
she did a piece of work well, and was praised for it, she re- 
ceived the praise with the same indifferent air ; or if, as was 
most frequently the case, she was harshly chided and severely 
punished, 'twas all the same. Xo tone or word could move 
those rigid features. 

One evening Miss Bradly came over to see the young ladies, 
and inquire the latest news from young master. Miss Jane 
gave orders that the table should be set with great care, and 
all the silver displayed. They had long since lost their olden 
familiarity, and, out of respect to the present coldness that ex- 
isted between them, they (the Misses Peterkin) desired to shov/ 



MR. PETERKIX'S APPREHENSIONS. 



205. 



off before the discredited scliool-mistress." I heard Miss 
Bradly ask Mr. Peterkin when he heard from young master. 

I've just got a letter from Dr. Mandy. They ar' still in Xew 
Orleans; but expected to start for home in 'bout three days. 
The doctor gives me very little cause for hope ; says Johnny is 
mighty weak, and had a pretty tough cough. He says the 
night-sweats can't be broke ; and the boy is very weak, not 
able to set up an hour at a time. This is very discouragin,' 
]\Iiss Emily. Sometimes it 'pears like 'twould kill me, too, my 
heart is so sot 'pon that boy;" and here Mr. Peterkin began to 
smoke with great violence, a sure sign that he was laboring 
under intense excitement. 

He is a very noble youth," said Miss Bradly, with a quiver- 
ing voice and a moist eye ; " I am deeply attached to him, and 
the thought of his death is one fraught with pain to me. I hope 
Doctor Mandy is deceived in the prognostics he deems so bad. 
J ohnny's life is a bright example, and one that is needed." 

** Yes, you think it will aid the Abolition cause ; but not in 
this region, I can assure you,'^ said Miss Tildy, as she tossed 
her head knowingly. I'd like to know where Johnny learned 
all the Anti-slavery cant. Do you know, Miss Emil}^ that your 
incendiary principles lost you caste in this neighborhood, where 
you once stood as a model ?" 

Miss Tildy had touched Miss Bradly in her vulnerable point. 
" Caste" was a thing that she valued above reputation, and reck- 
oned more desirable than honor. Had it not been for a certain 
goodness of heart, from which she could not escape (though 
she had offten tried) she would have renounced her Anti-slavery 
sentiments and never again avowed them ; but young master's 
words had power to rescue her almost shipwrecked principles, 
and then, whilst smarting under the lash of his rebuke, she at- 
tempted, like many an astute politician, to " run on both sides 
of the question but this was an equivocal position that the 

out and out" Kentuckians were not going to allow. She had 
to be, in their distinct phraseology, one thing or the other ;" 
and, accordingly, aided by young master and her sense of jus- 



206 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 

tice, she avowed lierself the otlier.'^ And, of course, with 
this avowal, came the loss of cherished friends. In troops they 
fell away from her. Their averted looks and distant nods 
nearly drove her mad. If young master had been by to en- 
courage and sustain her with gracious words, she could have 
better borne it ; but, single-handed and alone, she could not bat- 
tle against adversity. And now this speech of Miss Tildy's 
was ver}^ untimely. She winced under it, yet dared not reply. 
What a contemptible character, to the brave mind, seems one 
lacking moral courage ! 

I want to see Johnny once again, and then I shall leave for 
the Xorth," said Miss Bradly, in a pitiful tone. 

See Naples and die, eh laughed Miss Tildy. 
" Always and ever ready with your fan,'^ replied Miss 
Bradly. 

At first her wiry turnings, her open and shameless sycophan- 
cy, and now her cringing and fawning upon the Peterkins, 
caused me to lose all respect for her. In the hour of her 
trouble, when deserted by those whom she had loved as friends, 
when her pecuniary prospects were blighted, I felt deeply for 
her, and even forgave the falsehood ; but now when I saw her 
shrink from the taunt and invective of Miss Tildy, and then 
minister to her vanity, I felt that she was too little even for con- 
tempt. At tea, that evening, whilst serving the table, I was 
surprised to observe Miss Jane's face very red with anger, and 
her manner exceedingly irascible. I began to wonder if I had 
done anything to exasperate her ; but could think of no offence 
of which I had been guilty. I knew from the way in which 
she conversed with all at the table, that none of them were of- 
fenders. I was the more surprised at her anger, as she had 
been, for the last week, in such an excellent Lumor, getting 
herself ready for the visit to the city. Oh, how I dreaded to 
see Miss Bradly leave, for then, I knev/ the storm w^ould break 
in all its fury ! 

I was standing in the kitchen, alone, trying to think what 
could have offended Miss Jane, when Amy came up to me, say- 
ing* 



amy's trouble. 



207 



Oh, Ann, two silver forks is lost, an' Miss Tildy done "cuse 
n^e of stealin' 'em, an' I declar 'fore heaven, I gib ebery one 
of 'em to Miss Tildy de mornin' Misser Summerbille lef, an' 
now she done told Miss Jane dat I told a lie, and that I stole 
'em. Lor' knows what dey is gwine to do 'long* wid me; but I 
don't kere much, so dey kills me soon and sets me out my 
misery at once." 

" When did they miss the forks ?" 

** Wy, to-night, when I went to set de table, I found dat two 
of 'em wasn't dar ; so I axed Miss Tildy whar dey was, an' 
she said she didn't know. Den I axed Miss Jane; she say, 
' ax Miss Tildy.' Den when I told Miss Tildy dat, she got 
mad ; struck me a lick right cross my face. Den I told her 
bout de time Mr. Summerbille lef, when I give 'em to her- 
She say, 'you's a liar, an' hab stole 'em.' Den I begun to de- 
clar I hadn't, and she call Miss Jane, and sa}^ to her dat she 
knowed I hab stole 'em, and Miss Jane got mad; kicked me, 
pulled my har till I screamed ; den I 'spose she did 'ant want 
Miss Bradly to hear me ; so she stopped, but swar she'd beat 
me to death if I didn't get 'em fur her right off. Xow, Ann, 
I doesn't know whar dey is, if I was to be kilt for it." 

She drew the back of her hand across her eyes, and I saw 
that it was moist. I was glad of this, for her silent endur- 
ance was more horrible to look upon than this physical soft- 
ness. 

" Oh, God !" I exclaimed, I would that young master were 
here." 

What fur, Ann ?" 

" He might intercede and prevent them from using you so 
cruelly." 

" I doesn't wish he was har ; for I lubs young Masser, an' he 
is good ; if he was to see me a sufferin' it wud stress him, an' 
make his complaint worse ; an' he couldn't do no good ; for 
dey will beat me, no matter who begs. Ob, it does seem so 
strange that black people was eber made. I is glad dat de 
chillen is'nt har ; for de sight ob dem cryin' round de ' post,' 



208 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



wud nearly kill me. I can bar an^^thin' fur myself, but not fur 
'em. Oh, I hopes dey is dead." 

And here she heaved a dreadful groan. This was the first 
time I had heard her allude to them, and I felt a choking rush 
in my throat. 

Don't cry, Ann, take kere ob yourself. It 'pears like my 
time has come. I don't feel 'feard, an' dis is de fust time I'se 
eber bin able to speak 'bout de chillen. If eber you sees 'em, 
(I niver will), tell 'em dat I niver did forget 'em ; dat night 
an' day my mind was sot on 'em, an' please, Ann, gib 'em dis." 

Here she took from her neck a string that held her mother's 
gift, and the coin young master had given her, suspended to it. 
She looked at it long and wistfully, then, slowly pressing it to 
her lips, she said in a low, plaintive voice that went to my heart, 

Poor Mammy." 

I then took it from her, and hid it in my pocket. A cold 
horror stole over me. I had not the j^ower to gainsay her ; for 
an instinctive idea that something terrible was going to occur, 
chained my lips. 

Ann, I thanks you for all your kindness to me. I hopes 
you may hab a better time den I has hab. I feel, Ann, as if 
I niver should come down from dat post alive. 
" Trust in God, Amy." 
She shook her head despairingly. 
He will save you." 
No, God don't kare for black folks." 
" "What did young master tell you about that ? Did he not 
say God loved all His creatures alike ?" 

Yes, but black folks aint God's critters." 
Yes, they are, just as much as white people." 
No dey aint." 

Oh, Amy, I Avish I could make joii understand how it is." 
" You kant make me belieb dat ar' way, no how you can fix 
it. God don't kare w^hat a comes ob niggers ; an' I is glad he 
don't, kase when I dies, I'll jist lay down and rot like de 
worms, and dere wont be no white folks to 'buse me." 



amy's idea of a god. 



209 



" No, there will be no white folks to abuse you in heaven ; 
but God and His angels will love you, if you will do well and 
try to get there." 

I don^t want to go ther, for God is one of the white people, 
and, in course, he'd beat de niggers.'' 

Oh, was not this fearful, fearful ignorance ? Through the 
solid rock of her obtusity, I could, with no argument of mine, 
make an aperture for a ray of heavenly light to penetrate. 
Do Christians, who send off missionaries, realize that heathen- 
dom exists in their very midst ; aye, almost at their own hearth- 
stone ? Let them enlighten those that dwell in the bonds of 
night on their own borders; then shall their efforts in distant 
lands be blest. Numberless instances, such as the one I have 
recorded, exist in the slave States. The masters who instruct 
their slaves in religion, could be numbered ; and I will venture 
to assert that, if the census were taken in the State of Ken- 
tucky, the number would not exceed twenty. Here and there 
you will find an instance of a mistress who will, perhaps, on a 
Sunday evening, talk to a female slave about the propriety of 
behaving herself ; but the gist of the argument, the hinge upon 
which it turns, is — " obey your master and mistress upon 
this one precept hang all the law and the prophets." 

That night, after my house duties were discharged, I went to 
the cabin, where I found Amy lying on her face, weeping bit- 
terly. I lifted her up, and tried to console her ; but she ex- 
claimed, with more energy than I had ever heard her, 

" Ann, every ting seems so dark to me. I kan't see past to- 
morrow. I has bin thinkin' of Aunt Polly ; I keeps seein' her, 
no matter what way I turns." 

" You are frightened," I ventured to say. 

" No, I isn't, but I feels curus." 
Let me teach you to pray." 

" Will it do me any good ?" 
Yes, if you put faith in God." 
What's faith ?" 

^' Believe that God is strong and willing to save you ; that is 
fiith." 



210 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Who IS God ? I never seed liim." 
"Xo, but He sees you." 

Whar is He and she looked fearfully around the room, in 
which the scanty fire threw a feeble glare. 

Everywhere. He is everywhere/' I answered. 

Is He in dis room ?" she asked in terror, and drew near me. 

Yes, He is here.'' 
" Oh lor ! He may tell Masser on me. 

This ignorance may, to the careless reader, seem laughable ; 
but, to me, it was most horrible, and I could not repress my 
tears. Here was the force of education. Master was to her the 
strongest thing or person in existence. Of course she could not 
understand a higher power than that which had governed her 
life. There are hundreds as ignorant ; but no missionaries come 
to enlighten them ! 

Oh, don't speak that vray ; you know God made you.'' 
Yes, but dat was to please Masser. He made me fur to be 
a slave." 

Xow, how would the religious slave-holder answer that 1 

I strove, but with no success, to make her understand that 
over her soul, her temporal master had no control ; but her 
ignorance could not see a difference between the body and soul. 
Whoever owned the former, she thought, was entitled to the 
latter. Finding I could make no impression ujDon her mind, I 
lay down and tried to sleep ; but rest was an alien to me. I 
dreaded the breaking of the morn. Poor Amy slept, and I was 
glad that she did. Her overtaxed body yielded itself up to the 
most profound rest. In the morning, w^hen I saw her sleeping 
so soundly on the pallet, I disliked to arouse her. I felt, as I 
fancied a human jailer must feel, ^vhose business it is to awaken 
a criminal on the morning of his execution ; yet I had it to do, 
for, if she had been tardy at her work, it would have enraged 
her tyrants the more, and been worse for her. 

Eubbing her eyes, she sat upright on the pallet and murmured, 
Dis is de day. I's to be led to de post, and maybe kilt." 

I dared not comfort her, and only bade her to make haste and 
attend to her work. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 



THE PUNISHMENT CRUELTY — ITS FATAL CONSEQUENCE — 

DEATH. 

At breakfast, Miss Jane sliook lier head at Amy, saying, 

** I'll settle accounts witli you, presently." 

I wondered if tliat tremulous form, that stood eyeing her in 
affright, did not soften her ; but no, the shaking culprit," as 
she styled Amy, was the very creature upon whom she desired 
to deal swift justice. 

Pitiable was the sight in the kitchen, where Jake and Dan, 
great stout fellows, were making their breakfasts ofP of scraps 
of meat, old bones and corn-bread, whilst the aroma of coffee, 
broiled chicken, and egg-cakes was wafted to them from the 
house-table. 

" I wish't I had somepin' more to eat,'' said Dan. 
" You's never satisfy," replied Sally, the cook ; " you gits jist 
as much as de balance, yit you makes de most complaints.'' 
No I doesn't." 
" Yes, you does ; don't he, Jake ?" 

" Why, to be sartain he does," said Jake, v/ho of late had 
agreed to live with Sally as a wife. Of course no matrimonial 
rite was allowed, for Mr. Peterkin was consistent enough to say, 
that, as the law did not recognize the validity of negro marriages, 
he saw no use of the tomfoolery of a preacher in the case ; and 
this is all reasonable enough. 

You allers takes SaPs part," said Dan, " now sense she has 
got to be your wife ; you and her is allers colloged together 
agin' de rest ov us." 

" Wal, haint I "right for to 'tect my ole 'oman ?" 

[211] 



212 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



'^Now, ha, ha!" cried Nace, as he entered, de idee ob yer 
'tectin' a wife ! I jist wisht Masser sell yer apart, den whar is 
yer 'tection ob one anoder V 

Oh, dat am very different. Den I'd jist git me anoder ole 
•oman, an' she'd git her anoder ole man." 

" Sure an' I would," was Sally's reply ; hain't I done had 
five old men already, an' den if Jake be sole, I'de git somebody 
else." 

White folks don't do dat ar' way," interposed Dan, as he 
picked away at a bone. 

In course dey don't. AVhy should dey ?" put in Nace. 
Ain't dey our Massers, and habn't dey dar own way in ebery 
ting V 

" I wisht I'd bin born white," added Dan. 

" Ya, ya, dat is funny !" 
Do de free colored folks live like de whites ?" asked Sally. 

*'Why, laws, yes ; once when I went with Masser to L.," 
Nace began, "at de tavern whar we put up, dar was a free 
collored man what waited on de table, and anoder one what kipt 
barber-shop in de tavern. Wal, dey was drest as nice as white 
men. Dar dey had dar standin' collar, and nice cravat, and dar 
broadcloth, and dar white handkersher ; and de barber, he had 
some wool growin' on his upper lip jist like de quality men. 
Ya, ya, but I sed dis am funny ; so when I 'gin to talk jist as 
dough dey was niggers same as I is, dey straighten 'emselves up 
and tell me dat I was a speakin' to a gemman. Wal, says I. 
haint your faces black as mine ? Niggers aint gemmen, says I, 
for I thought I'd take dar airs down ; but den, dey spunk up 
and say dey w^as not niggers, but colored pussons, and dey call 
one anoder Mr. Wal, I fought it was quare enoff ; and more 
an' dat, white folks speak 'spectable to 'em, jist same as dey 
war white. Whole lot ob white gemmans come in de barber- 
shop to be shaved ; and den dey'd pay de barber, and maybe 
like as not, set down and talk 'long wid him." 

There is no telling how long the garrulous Nace would have 
continued the narration of what he saw in L — , had he not been 



RENEWED CRUELTY. 



213 



suddenly interrupted by the entrance of Miss Tildy, inquiring 
for Amy. 

Instantly all of tliem assumed that cheerful, smiling, syco- 
phantic manner, which is well known to all who have ever 
looked in at the kitchen of a slaveholder. Amy stood out 
from the group to answer Miss Tildy's summons. I shall never 
forget the expression of subdued misery that was limned upon 
her face. 

Come in the house and account for the loss of those forks," 
said Miss Tildy, in the most peremptory manner. 

Amy made no reply to this ; but followed the lady into the 
house. There she was court-marshalled, and of course, found 
guilty of a high misdemeanor. 

" Wal," said Mr. Peterkin, we'll see if the * post ' can't 
draw from you whar you've put 'em. Come with me.'' 

With a face the picture of despair, she followed. 

Upon reaching the post, she was fastened to it by the wrist 
and ankle fetters ; and Mr. Peterkin, foaming with rage, dipped 
his cowhide in the strongest brine that could be made, and 
drawing it up with a flourish, let it descend upon her uncovered 
back with a lacerating stroke. Heavens ! what a shriek she 
gave ! Another blow, another and a deeper stripe, and cry 
after cry came from the hapless victim ! 

Whar is the forks ?" thundered Mr. Peterkin, " tell me, or 
I'll have the worth out of yer cussed hide." 

" Indeed, indeed, Masser, I doesn't know." 

" You are a liar," and another and a severer blow. 

" Whar is they?" 

" I give 'em to Miss Jane, Masser, indeed I did." 
Take that, you liar," and again he struck her, and thus he 
continued until he had to stop from exhaustion. There she 
stood, partially naked, bleeding at every wound, yet none of 
us dared go near and offer her even a glass of cold water. 
Has she told where they are ?" asked Miss Tildy. 
" No, she says she give 'em to you." 

*'Well, she tells an infamous lie ; and I hope you will beat 



214 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



her until pain forces her to acknowledge what she has done 
with them." 

Oh, I'll git it out of her yet, and by blood, too.'^ 
" Yes, father, Amy needs a good whipping," said Miss Jane, 
for she has been sulky ever since we took her in the house. 
Two or three times I've thought of asking you to have her 
taken to the post." 

Yes, I've noticed that she's give herself a good many ars. 
It does me rale good to take 'em out of her." 

Yes, father, you are a real negro-breaker. They don't dare 
behave badly where you are." 

This, Mr. Peterkin regarded as high praise ; for, whenever 
he related the good qualities of a favorite friend, he invariably 
mentioned that he was a tiglit master ;" so he smiled at his 
daughter's compliment. 

Yes," said Miss Tildy, whenever father approaches, the 
darkies should set up the tune, * See the conquering hero 
comes.' " 

Good, iirst-rate, Tildy," replied Miss Jane. 
" 'Till is a wit." 

Yes, you are both high-larn't gals, a-liead of yer pappy." 

Oh, father, please don't speak in that way." 

It was the fashion when I was edicated." 
" Just listen," they both exclaimed. 

" Jake," called out Mr. Peterkin, whose wrath was getting 
excited by the criticisms of his daughters, go and bring Amy 
here." 

In a few moments Jake returned, accompanied by Amy. 
The blood was oozing through the body and sleeves of the 
frock that she had hastily thrown on. 

Whar's the spoons ?" thundered out Mr. Peterkin. 
*• I give 'em to Miss Tildy." 
You are a liar," said Miss Tildy, as she dashed up to her, 
and struck her a severe blow on the temple with a heated poker. 
Amy dared not parry the blow ; but, as she received it, she fell 



THE INTERROGATION. 



215 



fainting to the floor. Mr. Peterkin ordered Jake to take her 
out of their presence. 

She was taken to the cabin and left lying on the floor. When 
I went in to see her, a horrid spectacle met my view ! There 
she lay stretched npon the floor, blood oozing from her whole 
body. I washed it off nicely and greased her wounds, as poor 
Aunt Polly had once done for me ; but these attentions had to 
be rendered in a very secret manner. It would have been called 
treason, and punished as such, if I had been discovered. 

I had scarcely got her cleansed, and her wounds dressed, before 
she was sent for again. 

Now," said Miss Tildy, if you will tell me what you did 
with the forks, I will excuse you ; but, if you dare to say you 
don't know, I'll beat you to death with this,'^ and she held up 
a bunch of briery switches, that she had tied together. Now 
only imagine briars digging and scraping that already lacerated 
flesh, and you will not blame the equivocation to which the poor 
wretch was driven. 

" Where are they asked Miss Jane, and her face was fright- 
ful as the Medusa's. 

I hid 'em under a barrel out in the back yard." 

" Well, go and get them." 

" Stay," said Miss Jane, ^'Pll go with you, and see if they are 
there.'' 

Accordingly she went off with her, but they were not there. 

"Now, where are they, liarV she asked. 

"Oh, Miss Jane, I put 'em here; but I 'spect somebody's 
done stole 'em." 

"No, you never put them there," said Miss Tildy. *'Now 
tell me where they are, or I'll give you this with a vengeance," 
and she shook the briers. 

" I put 'em in my box in the cabin." 

And thither they went to look for them. Not finding them 
there, the tortured girl then named some other place, but with 
as little success they looked elsewhere. 

"Now," said Miss Tildy, " I have done all that the most hu- 



216 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



mane or just, could demand ; and I find that nothing but a touch 
of this can get the truth from you, so come with me." She took 
her to the "lock-up," and secured the door within. Such 
screams as issued thence, I pray heaver ' may never hear 
again. It seemed as if a fury's strength endowed Miss Tildy's 
arm. 

When she came out she was pale from fatigue. 
IVe beaten that girl till Pve no strength in me, and she has 
less life in her ; yet she will not say what she did with the 
forks." 

I'll go in and see if I can't get it out of her," said Miss Jane. 

"Wait awhile, Jane, maybe she will, after a little reflection, 
agree to tell the truth about it. 

" Xever,'' said Miss Jane, " a nigger will never tell the truth 
till it is beat out of her." So saying she took the key from Miss 
Tildy, and bade me follow her. I had rather she had told me 
to hang myself. 

When she unlocked the door, I dared not look in. My eyes 
were riveted to the ground until I heard Miss Jane say : 
" Get up, you hussy." 

There, lying on the ground, more like a heap of clotted gore 
than a human being, I beheld the miserable Amy. 

" Why don't she get up ?" inquired Miss Jane. 1 did not re- 
ply. Taking the cowhide, she gave her a severe lick, and the 
wretch cried out, Oh, Lord 

" The Lord won't hear a liar," said Miss Jane. 

*' Oh, what will 'come of me ?" 
Death, if you don't confess what you did with the forks." 
Oh God, hab mercy ! Miss Jane, please don't beat me any 
more. My poor back is so sore. It aches and smarts dreadful," 
and she lifted up her face, which was one mass of raw flesh ; and 
wiping or trying to wipe the blood away from her eyes with a 
piece of her sleeve that had been cut from her body, she be- 
sought Miss Jane to have mercy on her ; but the spirit of her 
father was too strongly inherited for Jane Peterkin to know 
aught of human pity. 



THE BLOW. 



217 



Where are the forks V 

Oh, law ! oh, law Amy cried out, " I swar I doesn't know 
anything 'bout 'em.'' 

Such blows as followed I have not the heart to describe ; for 
they descended upon flesh already horribly mangled. 

The poor girl looked up to me, crying out : 

" Oh, Ann, beg for me." 

''Miss Jane," I ventured to say; but the tigress turned and 
struck me such a blow across the face, that I was blinded for 
full five minutes. 

" There, take that ! you impudent hussy. Do you dare to 
ask me not to punish a thief?" 

I made no reply, but withdrew from her presence to cleanse 
my face from the blood that was flowing from the wound. 

As I bathed my face and bound it up, I wondered if acts such 
as these had ever been reported to those clergymen, who so 
stoutly maintain that slavery is just, right, and almost available 
unto salvation. I cannot think that they do understand it in 
all its direful wrongs. They look upon the institution, doubt- 
less, as one of domestic servitude, where a strong attachment 
exists between the slave and his owner ; but, alas ! all that is 
generally fabulous, worse than fictitious. I can fearlessly as- 
sert that I never knew a single case, where this sort of feeling 
was cherished. The very nature of slavery precludes the exis- 
tence of such a feeling. Read the legal definition of it as con- 
tained in the statute books of Kentucky and Virginia, and how, 
I ask you, can there be, on the slave's part, a love for his owner? 
Oh, no, that is the strangest resort, the fag-end of argument ; 
that most transparent fiction. Love, indeed I The slave-master 
love his slave ! Did Cain love Abel ? Did Herod love those 
innocents, whom, by a bloody edict, he consigned to death ? 
In the same category of lovers will we place the slave-owner. 

When Miss J ane had beaten Amy until s/ic was satisfied, she 
came, with a face blazing, like Mars, from the lock-up." 

" Well, she confesses now, that she put the forks under the 
corner of a log, near the poultry coop." 
10 



218 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Its only anotlier one of her lies/' replied Miss Tildy. 
Well, if it is, I'll beat her until she tells the truth, or I'll 
kill her." 

So saying, she started oflp to examine the spot. I felt that 
this was but another subterfuge, devised by the poor wretch to 
gain a few moments' respite. 

The examination proved, as I had anticipated, a failure, 

" What's to be done ?" inquired Miss Tildy. 

"Leave her a few moments longer to herself, and then if the 
truth is not obtained from her. kill her." These words came 
hissing though her clenched teeth. 

It won't do to kill her," said Miss Tildy. 

" I don't care much if I do." 

"We would be tried for murder." 
Who would be our accusers ? Who the witnesses ? You 
forget that Jones is not here to testify." 
Ah, and so we are safe." 

" Oh, I never premeditate anything without counting the 
cost." 

" But then the loss of property 

" I'd rather gratify my revenge than have five hundred dol- 
lars, which would be her highest market value." 

Tell me, honest reader, was not she, at heart, a murderess? 
Did she not plan and premeditate the deed ? Who were her 
accusers ? That God whose first law she had outraged ; that 
same God who asked Cain for his slain brother. 

" Now," said Miss Jane, after she had given the poor crea- 
ture only a few moments relief, " now let me go and see what 
that wretch has to say about the forks." 

" More lies," added Miss Tildy. 

" Then her fate is sealed," said the human hyena. 

Turning to me, she added, in the most authoritative manner, 

" Come with me, and mind that you obey me ; none of your 
impertinent tears, or I'll give you this." 

And she struck me a lick across the shoulders. I can assure 
you I felt but little inclination to do anything whereby such a 



SCExNE IN THE LOCK-UP.'' 



219 



penalty miglit be incurred. Taking the key of the " lock up" 
from her pocket, she ordered me to open the door. With a 
trembling hand I obeyed. Slowly the old, rusty-hinged door 
swung open, and oh, heavens ! what a sight it revealed ! There, 
in the centre of the dismal room, suspended from a spoke, about 
three feet from the ground, was the body of Amy I Driven by 
desperation, goaded to frenzy, she had actually hung herself I 
Oh, God ! that fearful sight is burnt in on my brain, with a 
power that no wave of Lethe can ever wash out ! There, 
covered with clotted blood, bruised and mangled, hung the 
wretched girl ! There, a bleeding, broken monument of the 
white man's and w^hite woman's cruelty ! Grod of my sires ! is 
there for us no redress ? And Miss J ane — what did she do ? 
Why, she screamed, and almost " swooned with fright 1 Ay, 
too late it was to rend the welkin with her cries of distress. 
She had done the deed ! Upon her head rested the sin of that 
freshly-shed blood ! She was the real murderess. Oh, fright- 
ful shall be her nights ! Peopled with racks, execution-blocks, 
and ghastly gallows-poles, shall be her dreams ! At the lone 
hour of midnight, a wan and bloody corse shall glide around 
her bed-side, and shriek into her trembling ear the horrid word 
** murderess Let me still remain in bondage, call me still by 
the ignoble title of slave, but leave me the unbought and price- 
less inheritance of a stainless conscience. 1 am free of murder 
before God and man. Still riot in your wealth ; still batten on 
inhumanity, women of the white complexion, but of the black 
hearts ! I envy you not. Still let me rejoice in a darker face, but 
a snowy, self-approving conscience. 

Miss Jane's screams brought Mr. Peterkin, Miss Tildy and 
the servants to her side. There, in front of the open door of 
the lock-up, they stood, gazing upon that revolting spectacle I 
No word was spoken. Each regarded the others in awe. At 
length, Mr. Peterkin, whose heartlessness was equal to any 
emergency, spoke to Jake : 

Cut down that body, and bury it instantly.'^ 

With this, they all turned away from the tragical spot ; but 



220 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



I, though physically weak of nerve, still remained. That poor, 
bereaved girl had been an object of interest to me ; and I conld 
not now leave her distorted and lifeless body. Cold-hearted 
ones were around her ; no friendly eye looked upon her mang- 
led corse, and I shuddered when I saw Jake and Dan rudely 
handle the body upon which death had set its sacred seal. 

One more unfortunate, 

Weary of breath ; 
Kashly importunate, 

Gone to her death. 

Swift to be hurled, 

Anywhere, anywhere. 
Out of the world." 

This I felt had been her history ! This should have been 
her epitaph ; but, alas for her, there would be reared no record- 
ing stone. All that she had achieved in life was the few inches 
of ground wherein they laid her, and the shovel full of dirt with 
which they covered her. Poor thing ! I was not allowed to 
dress the body for the grave. Hurriedly they dug a hole and 
tossed her in. I was the only one who consecrated the obse- 
quies with funeral tears. A coarse joy and ribald jests rang 
from the lips of the grave-diggers ; but I was there to weep 
and water the spot with tributary tears. 

Perishing gloomily. 
Spurred by contumely, 
Cold inhumanity. 
Burning insanity, 

Into her rest. 
Cross her hands humbly, 
As if praying dumbly, 

Over her breast." 



CHAPTEE XXV. 



CONVERSATION OF THE FATHER AND SON THE DISCOVERY ; ITS 

CONSECIUENCES — DEATH OF THE YOUNG AND BEAUTIFUL. 

Very lonely to me were the. nights that succeeded Amy*s 
death. I spent them alone in the cabin. A strange kind of 
superstition took possession of me ! The room was peopled with 
unearthly guests. I buried my face in the bed-covering, as if 
that could protect me or exclude supernatural visitors. For two 
weeks I scarcely slept at all ; and my constitution had begun 
to sink under the over-taxation. This was all the worse, as 
Amy's death entailed upon me a double portion of work. 

**What !" said Mr. Peterkin to me, one day, are you agoin 
to die, too, Ann ? Any time you gits in the notion, jist let me 
know, and Pll give you rope enough to do it." 

In this taunting way he frequently alluded to that fatal 
tragedy which should have bowed his head with shame and 
remorse. 

Young master had returned, but not at all benefited by his 
trip. A deep carnation was burnt into his shrivelled cheek, and 
he walked with a feeble, tottering step. The least physical 
exertion would bring on a violent paroxysm of coughing. The 
unnatural glitter of his eye, with its purple surroundings, gave 
me great uneasiness ; but he was the same gentle, kind-spoken 
young master that he had ever been. His glossy, golden hair 
had a dead, dry appearance ; whilst his chest was fearfully 
sunken ; yet his father refused to believe that all these marks 
were the heralds of the great enemy's approach. 
The spring will cure you, my boy." 

" No, father, the spring is coming fast ; but long before its 

'"2211 



222 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



flowers begin to scent the vernal gales, I shall have passed 
through the narrow gateway of the tomb.'' 

Xo, it shall not be. All my money shall go to save you.'' 
I am purchased, father, with a richer price than gold ; the 
inestimable blood of the Lamb has long since paid my ransom ; 
I go to my father in heaven. 

" Oh, my son ! you want to go ; you want to leave me. You 
do not love your father." 

*' Yes, I do love you, father, very dearly ; and I would that 
you were going with me to that lovely land." 
" I shill never go thar." 
" 'Tis that fear that is killing me, father." 
" What could I, now, do to be saved ?" 
Believe in the Lord Jesus, and be baptized." 
Is that all ?" 

Yes, that is all ; but it embraces a good deal, dear father ; 
a good deal more than most persons deserve. In order to a 
perfect belief in the Lord Jesus, you must act consistently with 
that belief. You must deal justly. Abundantly give to the 
poor, and, above all, you must love mercy, and do mercifully to 
all. Now I approach the great subject upon which I fear you 
will stumble. You must," and he pronounced the words very 
slowly, " liberate your slaves." There was a fair gleam from 
his eyes when he said this. 

Mr. Peterkin turned uneasily in his chair. He did not wish 
to encourage a conversation upon this subject. 

One evening, when it had been raining for two or three days, 
and the damp condition of the atmosphere had greatly increased 
young master's complaint, he called me to his bedside. 

Ann," he said, in that deep, sepulchral tone, I wish to ask 
you a question, and I urge you not to deceive me. Remember 
I am dying, and it will be a great crime to tell me a falsehood." 

I assured him that I would answer him with a faithful regard 
to truth. 

Then tell me what occasioned Amy's death ? Did she 
come to it by violence ?" 



THE INTERROGATORY. 



223 



I shall never forget the deep, penetrating giance that he fixed 
upon me. It was an inquiry that went to my soul. I could not 
have answered him falsely. 

Calmly, quietly, and without exaggeration, 1 told him all the 
circumstances of her death. 

Murder he exclaimed, " murder, foul and most un- 
natural !" 

I saw him wipe the tears from his hollow eyes, and that 
sunken chest heaved with vivid emotion. 

Mr. Peterkin came in, and was much surprised to find young 
master so excited. 

" What is the matter, my hoy 
The same old trouble, father, these unfortunate negroes.'* 

" Hang 'em ; let them go to the d — 1, at once. They are 
not worth all this consarn on your part.'' 

" Father, they possess immortal souls, and are a part of 
Christ's purchase." 

*'0h, that kind of talk does very well for preachers and 
church members." 

"It should do for all humanity." 

"I doesn't know what pity means whar a nigger is consarned." 

" And 'tis this feeling in you that has cost me my life." 

" Confound thar black hides. Every one of 'em that ever 
growed in Afriky isn't worth that price." 

Their souls are as precious in God's eyes as ours, and the 
laws of man should recognize their lives as valuable." 

" Oh, now, my boy ! don't talk any more 'bout it. It only 
'stresses you for nothing." 

" No, it distresses me for a great deal. For the value of 
Christ-purchased souls." 

Mr. Peterkin concluded the argument as he usually did, when 
it reached a knotty point, by leaving. AH that evening I noticed 
that young master was unusually restless and feverish. His 
mournful eyes would follow me withersoever I moved about 
the room. From the constant and earnest movement of his lips, 
I knew that he was engaged in prayer. 



224 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



When Miss Bradly came in and looked at him, I thought, 
from the frightened expression of her face, that she detected 
some alarming symptoms. This apprehension was confirmed by 
the manner of Dr. Mandy. All the rest of the evening I wan- 
dered near Miss Bradly and the doctor, trying to catch, from 
their conversation, what they thought of young master's con- 
dition; but they were very guarded in what they said, well 
knowing how acutely sensitive Mr. Peterkin was on the subject- 
Miss Jane and Miss Tildy did not appear in the least anxious 
or uneasy about him. They sewed away upon their silks and 
laces, never once thinking that the angel of death was hovering 
over their household and about to snatch from their embrace 
one of their most cherished idols Yerily, oh. Death, thou art 
like a thief in the night ; with thy still, feline tread, thou enter- 
est our chambers and stealest our very breath away without 
one admonition of tliy coming ! 

But not so came he to young master. As a small-voiced angel, 
with blessings concealed beneath his shadowy wing, he came, 
the herald of better days to him ! As a well-loved bride- 
groom to a waiting bride, was the angel of the tombs to that 
expectant spirit ! 'Twas painful, yet j)leasant, to watch with 
what patient courage he endured bodily pain. Often, unnoticed 
by him, did I watch, with a terrible fascination, the heroic strug- 
gle with which he wrestled with suffering and disease. Sad 
and piteous were the shades and inflections of severe agony that 
passed over his noble face ! I recall now with sorrow, the 
memory of that time \ How well, in fancy, can I see him, as 
he lay upon that downy bed, with his beautiful gold hair 
thrown far back from his sunken temples, his blue, upturned 
eyes, fringed by their lashes of fretted gold, and those pale, thin 
hands that toyed so fitfully with the drapery of the couch, and 
the restless, loving look which he so frequently cast upon each 
of the dear ones who drew around him. It must be that the 

sun-set of life" gives us a keener, quicker sense, else why 
do we love the more fondly as the curtain of eternity begins to 
descend upon us ? Surely, there must be a deeper, undevel- 



THE DISCOVERY. 



225 



oped sense lying beneatli tlie surface of general feeling, which 
only the tightening of life's cords can reveal ! He grew 
gentler, if possible, as his death approached. Very heavenly 
seemed he in those last, most trying moments ! All that had 
ever been earthly of him, began to recede ; the fleshly taints 
(if there were any) grew fainter and fainter, and the glorious 
spiritual predominated ! Angel more than mortal, seemed he. 
The lessons which his life taught me have sunk deep in my na- 
ture ; and I can well say, " it was good for him to have been here." 

It was a few weeks after the death of Amy, when Miss 
Tildy was overlooking the bureau that contained the silver 
and glass ware, she gave a sudden exclamation, that, without 
knowing why, startled me very strangely. A thrill passed 
over my frame, an icy contraction of the nerves, and I knew 
that something awful was about to be revealed. 

^* What is the matter with you ?" asked Miss Jane. 

Still she made no reply, but buried her face in her hands, 
and remained thus for several minutes ; when she did look up, 
I saw that something terrible was working in her breast. 
" Culprit," was written all over her face. It was visible in the 
downcast terror of her eye, and in the blanched contraction of 
the lips, and quivered in the dilating nostril, and was stamped 
upon the whitening brow ! 

What ails you, Tildy again inquired her sister. 

" Why, look here and she held up, to my terror, the two 
missing forks 1 

Oh, heavens ! and for her own carelessness and mistake had 
Amy been sacrificed ? I make no comment. I merely state 
the case, and leave others to draw their own conclusions. Yet, 
this much I will add, that there were no Caucasian w^itnesses 
to the bloody deed, therefore no legal cognizance could bo 
taken of it ! Most noble and righteous American laws ! ^Yho 
that lives beneath your shelter, would dare to say they are not 
wise and sacred as the laws of the Decalogue ? Thrice a day 
should their authors go up into the Temple, and thank our 
Lord that they are not like publicans and sinners. 
10* 



226 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



One evening — oli ! I shall long remember it, as one full of 
sacreduess, full of sorrow, and yet tinged -svitli a hue of heaven ! 
If was in the deep, delicious beauty of the flowering month of 
Maj. The twilight was unusually red and refulgent. The even- 
ing star shone like the full eye of love upon the dreamy earth ! 
The flowers, each with a dew-pearl glittering on its petals, lay 
lulled by the calm of the hour. Young master, fair saint, lay 
on his bed near the open window. througU which the scented 
gales stole sweetly, and f^mned his wasted cheek ! Thick and 
hard came his breath, and we, who stood around him, could al- 
most see the presence of the monster grim," whose skeleton 
arms were fast locking him about ! 

Flitting round the bed, like a guardian spirit, was Miss Brad- 
ly, whilst her tearful eye never wandered for an instant from 
that face now growing rigid with the kiss of death ! Miss 
Jane stood at the head of the bed wiping the cold damps from 
his brow, and Miss Tildy was striving to impart some of her 
animal warmth to his icy feet. Mr. Peterkin sat with one of 
those thin hands grasped within his own, as if disputing and 
defying the advance of that enemy whom no man is strong 
enough to baffle. 

Slowly the invalid turned upon his couch, and, looking out 
upon the setting sun, he heaved a deep sigh. 

*• Father,'' he said, as he again turned his face toward Mr. 
Peterkin, who still clasped his hand, " do you not know from 
my failing pulse, that my life is almost spent V* 

"Oh, my boy, it is too, too hard to give you up." 
Yet you 7?iusf nerve yourself for it. 

" I have no nerve to meet this trouble." 

" Go to God, He will give you ease.'* 

" I want Him to give me you." 

Me He lent you for a little while. Xow He demands me at 
your hands, and His requisition you must obey." 

" Oh, I won't give up ; maybe you'll yet be spared to me.'' 
" No, God's decree it is, that I should go." 
It cannot, shall not be." 



THE PROMISE. 



221 



" Father, father, you do but blaspheme.'' 

I will do anything rather than see you die.'' 
" I am willing to die. T have only one request to make of 
you. Will you grant it ? If you refuse me, T shall die wretched 
and unhappy." 

I will promise you anything.'' 
But will you keep your promise V 
" Yes, my boy." 

"Do you promise most faithfully V 
«^ I do.'^ 

Then promise me that you will instantly manumit your 
slaves." 

Mr. Peterkin hesitated a moment. 

*^ Father, I shall not die happy, if you refuse me." 
Then I promise faithfully to do it." 

A glad smile broke over the sufferer's face, like a sunbeam 
over a snow-cloud. 

" Now, at least I can die contentedly ! God will bless your 
effort, and a great weight has been removed from my oppressed 
heart." 

Dr. Mandy now entered the room; and, taking young master^s 
hand within his own, began to count the pulsations. A very 
ominous change passed over his face. 

Oh, doctor," cried the patient, read from your counte- 
nance the thoughts that agitate your mind ; but do not fear to 
make the disclosure to my friends even here. It will do me no 
harm. I know that my hours are numbered ; but I am willing, 
nay, anxious to go. Life has been one round of pain, and now, 
as I am about to leave the- world, I take with me a blessed as- 
surance that I have not lived in vain. Doctor, I call upon you, 
and all the dear ones here present, to witness the fact that my 
father has most solemnly promised me to liberate each of his 
slaves and never again become the holder of such property ? 
Father, do you not promise before these witnesses V 
I do, my child, I do," said the weeping father. 
Sisters," continued young master, " will you promise to urge 



228 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



or offer no objection to the furtherance of this sacred wish of 
your dying brother 

I do,'' " I do," they simultaneously exclaimed. 

And neither of you will ever become the owner of slaves 

" i^ever,'- never,'^ was the stifled reply. 
Come, now, Death, for I am ready for thee !" 
You have exerted yourself too much already," said the doc- 
tor, now pray take this cordial and try to rest ; you have over- 
taxed your power. Your strength is waning fast." 

Xo, doctor, I cannot be silent ; whilst I've the strength, 
pray let me talk. I wish this death-bed to be an example. 
Call in the servants. Let me speak with them. I wish to devote 
my power, all that is left of me now, to them." 

To this Mr. Peterkin and the doctor objected, alleging that 
his life required quiet. 

" Do not think of me, kind friends, I shall soon be safe, and 
am now well-cared for. If I did not relieve myself by speech, 
the anxiety would kill me. As a kind favor, I beg that you 
will not interrupt me. Call the good servants." 

Instantly they all, headed by Nace, came into the chamber, 
each weeping bitterly. 

" Good friends," he began, and now I noticed that his voice 
was weak and trembling, I am about to leave you. On earth 
you will never see me again ; but there is a better world, where 
I trust to meet you all. You have been faithful and attentive 
to me. I thank you from the bottom of my soul for it, and, if 
ever I have been harsh or unkind to you in any way, I now 
beg that you will forgive me. Do not weep," he continued, as 
their loud sobs began to drown his feeble voice. "Do not weep, 
I am going to a happy home, where trouble and pain will never 
harm me more. Now let me tell you, that my father has 
promised me that each of you shall be free immediately after 
my death." 

This announcement was like a panic to the poor, broken- 
spirited wretches. They looked wonderingly at young master, 
and then at each other, never uttering a word. 



PARTING WORDS. 



229 



" Come, do not look so bewildered. Ah, you do not believe 
me ; but, good as is tbis news, it is true ; is it not, father ?" 
" Yes, my son, it is true." 

When Mr. Peterkin spoke, they simultaneously started. That 
voice had power to recall them from the wildest dream of 
romance. Though softened by sorrow and suffering, there was 
still enough of the wonted harshness to make those poor 
wretches know it was Mr. Peterkin who spoke, and they quaked 
with fear. 

" In the new home and new position in life, which you will 
take, my friends, I hope you will not forget me ; but, above all 
things, try to save your souls. Go to church ; pray much and 
often. Place yourselves under God's protection, and all will be 
right. You, Jake, had better select as an occupation that of a 
farmer, or manager of a farm for some one of those wealthy but 
humane men of the Northern States. You, Dan, can make an 
excellent dray driver ; and at that business, in some of the 
Northern cities, you would make money. Sally can get a situa- 
tion as cook ; and Ann, where is Ann V he said, as he looked 
around. 

I stepped out from a retired corner of the room, into which I 
had shrunk for the purpose of indulging my grief unobserved. 

Don't weep, Ann," he began; you distress me when you 
do so. You ought, rather, to rejoice, because I shall so soon be 
set free from this unhappy condition. If you love me, prepare 
to meet me in heaven. This earth is not our home ; ^tis but a 
transient abiding-place, and, to o^e of my sensitive temperament, 
it has been none the happiest. I am glad that I am going ; yet 
a few pangs I feel, in bidding you farewell ; but think of me 
only as one gone upon a pleasant journey from snow-clad regions 
to a land smiling with tropic beauty, rich in summer bloom and 
vocal with the melody of southern birds ! Think of me as one 
who has exchanged the garments of a beggar for the crown of 
a king and the singing-robes of a prophet. I hope you will do 
well in life, and I would advise that you improve your educa- 
tion, and then become a teacher. You are fitted for that posi- 



230 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



tion. You could fill it with dignity. Do all you can to elevate 
the mind as well as manners of your most unfortunate race. 
And now, poor old Nace, what pursuit must I recommend to 
you V After a moment's pause, he added with a smile, " I will 
point out none ; for you are Yankee enough, Nace, to get along 
anywhere." 

He then requested that we should all kneel, whilst he be- 
sought for us and himself the blessings of Divine grace. 

I can never forget the words of that beautiful prayer. How 
like fairy pearls they fell from his lips ! And I do not think 
there was a single heart present that did not send out a fervent 
response ! It seemed as if his whole soul were thrown into 
that one burning appeal to heaven. His mellow eyes grew 
purple in their intense passionateness ; his pale lip quivered ; 
and the throbbing veins, that wandered so blue and beautifully 
through his temples, were swollen with the rapid tide of emo- 
tion. 

As we rose from our knees, he elevated himself upon his 
elbow, and looking earnestly at each one of us, said solemnly, 

God bless all of you !" then sank back upon the pillow; a 
bright smile flitted over his face, and he held his hand out to 
Miss Bradly, who clasped it lovingly. 

Good-bye, kind friend," he murmured, never forsake the 
noble Anti-slavery cause. Cling to it as a rock and anchor of 
safety. Good-bye, and God bless you." 

He then gave his other hand to Dr. ^landy, but, in attempt- 
ing to speak, he was checked by a violent attack of coughing, 
and blood gushed from his mouth. The doctor endeavored to 
arrest the flow, but in vain ; the crimson tide, like a stream 
broken loose from its barrier, flowed with a stifling rush. 

Soon we discovered, from the ghastly whiteness of the 
patient's face, and the calm, set stare of the eyes, that his life 
was almost gone. Oh, God ! how hard, pinched and contracted 
appeared those once beauteous features ! How terrible was the 
blank fixedness of those blue orbs ! No motion of the hand 
could distract their look. 



DEATH OF YOUN(i MASTER. 



231 



Heavens !" cried Miss Jane, h'ls eyes are set 
"No, no," exclaimed Mr. Peterkin, and with many gestures, 
he attempted to draw the staring eyes away from the object 
upon which they were fastened; but vain were all his en- 
deavors. He had no power to call back a parting spirit ; he, 
who had sent others to an unblest grave, could not now breatlie 
fresh vigor into a frame over which Death held his skeleton 
arm. Where was Remorse, the unsleeping fiend, in that mo- 
ment ? 

I was looking earnestly at young master's face, when the 
great change passed over it, I saw Dr. Mandy slowly press 
down the marble eye-lids and gently straighten the rigid limbs ; 
then, very softly turning to the friends, whose faces were hid- 
den by their clasped hands, he murmured. 

"All is over!'' 

Great heaven ! what screams burst from the afflicted family. 

Mr. Peterkin was crazy. His grief knew no bounds ! He 
raved, he tore his hair, he struck his breast violently, and then 
blasphemed. He did everything but pray. And that was a 
thing so unfamiliar to him, that he did not know how to do it. 
Miss Jane swooned, whilst Miss Tildy raved out against the in- 
justice of Providence in taking her brother from her. 

Miss Bradly and I laid the body out, dressed it in a suit of 
pure white, and filletted his golden curls v/ith a band of white 
rose-buds. Like a gentle infant resting in its first, deep sleep, 
lay he there ! 

After spreading tlie snowy drapery over the body, Miss 
Bradly covered all the furniture with white napkins, giving to 
the room the appearance of a death-like chill. There were no 
warm, rosy, life-like tints. Upon entering it, the very heart 
grew icy and still. The family, one by one, retired to their 
own apartments for the indulgence of private and sacred grief ! 



CHAPTEE XXYI 



THE FUNERAL — MISS BRADLY'S DEPARTURE — THE DISPUTE 

SPIRIT QUESTIONS. 

When I entered the kitchen, I found the servants still 
weeping violently. 

*'Poor soul," said Sally, ''he's at rest now. If he hain't 
gone to heaven, 'taint no use of havin' any ; fur he war de best 
critter I iver seed. He never gived me a cross word in all his 
life-time. Oh, Lord, he am gone now !" 

*' I ^members de time, when Mister Jones whipt me, dat 
young masser comed to me wid some grease and rubbed me all 
over, and talked so kind to me. Den he tell me not to say 
nothin' 'bout it, and I niver did mention it from dat day until 
dis." 

Wal, he was mighty good," added Jake, and I's sorry 
he's dead." 

I'se glad he got us our freedom afore he died. I wonder 
if we'll git it ?" asked Nace, who was always intent upon 
selfishness. 

Laws ! didn't he promise ? Den he mus' keep his word," 
added Jake. 

I made no comment. My thoughts upon the subject I kept 
locked in the depths of my own bosom. I knew then, as now, 
that natures like Mr. Peterkin's could be changed only by the 
interposition of a miracle. He had now shrunk beneath the 
power of a sudden blow of misfortune ; but this would soon pass 
away, and the savage nature would re-assert itself. 

All that gloomy night, T watched with Miss Bradly and Dr. 
Mandy beside the corpse. Often whilst the others dozed, would 
I steal to the bed and turn down the covering, to gaze upon tliat 

[282] 



MOURNFUL THOUGHTS. 



233 



still pale face ! Eeverently I placed my hand upon that rich 
golden head, with its band of flowers. 

There is an angel-like calm in the repose of death; a subdued 
awe that impresses the coldest and most unbelieving hearts ! 
As I looked at that still body, which had so lately been illum- 
ined by a radiant soul, and saw the noble look which the face 
yet wore, I inwardly exclaimed, 'Tis well for those who sleep 
in the Lord! 

All that long night I watched and waited, hoped and prayed. 
The deep, mysterious midnight passed, with all its fearful power 
of passion and mystery ; the still, small hours glided on as with 
silver slippers, and then came the purple glory of a spring dawn ! 
I left the chamber of death, and went out to muse in the hazy 
day -break. And, as I there reflected, my soul grew sick and 
sore afraid. One by one my friends had been falling around 
me, and now I stood alone. There was no kind voice to cheer 
me on ; no gentle, loving hand stretched forth to aid me ; no 
smile of friendship to encourage me. In the thickest of the 
fight, unbucklered, I must go. tip the weary, craggy moun- 
tain I must climb. The burning sands 1 must tread alone ! 
What wonder that my spirit, weak and womanly, trembled and 
turned away, asking for the removal of the cup of life ! Only 
the slave can comprehend the amount of agony that I endured. 
He alone who clanks the chain of African bondage, can know 
what a cloud of sorrow swept over my heart. 

I saw the great sun rise, like a blood-stained gladiator, in the 
East, and the diamond dew that glittered in his early light. I 
saw the roses unclose fragrantly to his warming call ; yet my 
heart was chill. Through the flower-decked grounds I walked, 
and the aroma of rarest blooms filled my senses with delight, 
yet woke no answering thrill in my bosom. Must it not be 
wretchedness indeed, when the heart refuses to look around 
upon blooming, vernal Nature, and answer her with a smile of 
freshness ? 

A little after daylight I re-entered the house, and found Miss 
Bradly dozing in a large arm-chair, with one hand thrown upon 



234 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



the cover of the bed where lay young master^s body. Dr. Mandy 
was outstretched upon the lounge in a profound sleep. The long 
candles had burnt very low in the sockets, and every now and 
then sent up that flicker, which has been so often likened to the 
struggles of expiring humanity. I extinguished them, and closed 
the shutters, to exclude the morning rays that would else have 
stolen in to mar the rest of those who needed sleep. Then re- 
turning to the yard, I culled a fresh bouquet and placed it upon 
the breast of the dead. Gently touching Miss Bradly, I roused 
her and begged that she would seek some more comfortable 
quarters, whilst I watched with the body. She did so, having 
first imprinted a kiss upon the brow of the heavenly sleeper. 

When she withdrew, I took from my apron a bundle of freshly- 
gathered flowers, and set about weaving fairy chains and gar- 
lands, which I scattered in fantastic profusion over and around 
the body. 

A beautiful custom is it to decorate the dead with fresh flow- 
ers ! There is something in the delicate, fairy-like perfume, and 
in the magical shadings and formation of flowers, that make 
them appropriate off'erings to the dead. Strange mystical things 
that they are, seemingly instinct with a new and inchoate life ; 
breathing in their heavenly fragrance of a hidden blessing, tell- 
ing a story which our dull ears of clay can never comprehend. 
Symbols of diviner being, expressions of quickening beauty, 
we understand ye not. We only Jeel that ye are God^s richest 
blessing to us, therefore we ofi'er ye to our loved and holy dead ! 

When the broad daylight began to beam in through the crev- 
ices of the shutters, and noise of busy life sounded from without, 
the family rose. Separately they entered the room, each turning 
down the spread, and gazing tearfully upon the ghastly face. 
Often and often they kissed the brow, cheek, and lips. 

**How lovely he was in life,'' said Miss Jane. 
Indeed he was, and he is now an angel," replied Miss Tildy, 
with a fresh gush of emotion. 

" My poor, poor boy," said Mr. Peterkin, as he sank down on 
the bed beside the body ; how proud I was of him. I allers 



THE CORPSE. 



235 



knowed lie'd be tuck Vay from me. He was too putty an' smart 
an' good fur this world. My heart wus so sot on him 1 yit some- 
times he almost run me crazy. I don't think it was just in 
Providence to take my only boy. I could have better spared 
one of the gals. Oh, tain't right, no how it can be fixed." 

And thus he rambled on, perfectly unconscious of the bold 
blasphemy which he was uttering with every breath he drew. 
To impugn the justice of his Maker's decrees vras a common 
practice with him. He had so long rejoiced in power, and wit- 
nessed the uncomplaining vassalage of slaves, that he began to 
regard himself as the very highest constituted authority ! This 
is but one of the corrupting influences of the slave-system. 

That long, wearing day, with its weight of speechless grief, 
passed at last. The neighbors came and went. Each praised 
the beauty of the corpse, and inquired who had dressed it. At 
length the day closed, and was succeeded by a lovely twilight. 
Another night, with its star-fretted canopy, its queenly, slow- 
moving moon, its soft aromatic air and pearly dew. And another 
gray, hazy day-break, yet still, as before, I watched near the 
dead. But on the afternoon of this day, there came a long, 
black coffin, with its silver plate and mountings; its interior trim- 
mings of white satin and border of lace, and within this they laid 
the form of young master ! His pale, fair hands were crossed 
prayerfully upon his breast ; and a fillet of fresh white buds 
bound his smooth brow, whilst a large bouquet lay on his breast, 
and the wreaths I had woven were thrown round him and over 
his feet. Then the lid was placed on and tightly screwed down. 
Then came the friends and neighbors, and a good man who read 
the Bible and preached a soothing and ennobling sermon. The 
friends gave one more look, another, a longer and more clinging 
kiss, then all was over. The slow procession followed after the 
vehicle that carried the coffin, the servants walking behind. 
Poor, uncared-for slaves, as we were, we paid a heart-felt tribute 
to his memory, and watered his new-made grave with as sincere 
tears as ever flowed from eyes that had looked on happier times. 

I lingered until long after the last shovel-full of dirt was 



236 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



thrown upon him. Others, even his kindred, had left the spot 
ere I turned away. That little nan-ow grave was dearer 
and nearer to me, as there it lay so fresh and damp, shapen 
smoothly with the sexton's spade, than when, several weeks 
after, a patrician obelisk reared its Parian head towards the blue 
sky. I have always looked upon grave-monuments as stony 
barriers, shutting out the world from the form that slowly moul- 
ders below. When the wild moss and verdant sward alone 
cover the grave, 'tis easy for us to imagine death only a sleep ; 
but the grave-stone, with its carvings and frescoes, seems a 
sort of prison, cold and grim in its aristocratic splendor. For 
the grave of those whom I love, I ask no other decoration than 
the redundant grass, the enamelled mosaic of wild Howers, a 
stream rolling by with its dirge-like chime, a weeping willow, 
and a moaning dove. 

The shades of evening were falling darkly ere I left the 
burial-ground. There, amid the graves of his ancestors, beside 
the tomb of his mother, I left him sleeping pleasantly. Life's 
fitful fever over," his calm soul rests well. 

* ###### 

In a few weeks after his death, the family settled back to 
their original manner of life. Mr. Peterkin grew sulky in his 
grief. He chewed and drank incessantly. The remonstrances 
of his daughters had no effect upon him. He took no notice of 
them, seemed almost to ignore their existence. Feeding sul- 
lenly on his own rooted sorrow, he cared nothing for those 
around him. 

We, the serv'ants, had been allowed a rather better time; for 
as he was entirely occupied with his own moody reflections, he 
bestowed upon us no thought. Yet we had heard no word about 
his compliance with the sacred promise he had made to the dead. 
Did he feel no touch of remorse, or was he so entirely sold to 
the d — 1, as to be incapable of regret ] 

The young ladies had been busy making up their mourning, 
and took but little notice of domestic affairs. Miss Jane con- 
cluded to postpone her visit to the city, on account of their re- 



THE CONVERSATION. 



237 



cent bereavement ; but later in the summer, she proposed 
going. 

One afternoon, several weeks after the burial of young master, 
Miss Bradly came over to see the ladies, for the purpose, as she 
said, of bidding them farewell, as early on the following morn- 
ing she expected to start North, to rejoin her family, from whom 
she had been so long separated. Miss Jane received the an- 
nouncement with her usual haughty smile ; and Miss Tildy, 
who was rather more of a hypocrite, expressed some regret at 
parting from her old teacher. 

I fear, dear girls, that you will soon forget me. I 
hoped that an intimate friendship had grown up between us, 
which nothing could destroy ; but it seems as if, in the last half- 
year, you have ceased to love me, or care for me.^' 

" I can only answer for myself, dear Miss Bradly/' said Miss 
Tildy, and I shall ever gratefully and fondly remember you, 
and my interesting school-days.'^ 

" So shall I pleasantly recollect my school-hours, and Miss 
Bradly as our preceptress ; and, had she not chosen to express 
and defend those awfully disgraceful and incendiary principles 
of the North, I should have continued to think of her with plea- 
sure." Miss Jane said this with her freezing air of hauteur. 

" But I remained silent, dear Jane, for years. I lived in your 
midst, in the very families where slave-labor was emplo}' ed ; yet 
I molested none. I did not inveigh against your peculiar do- 
mestic institution ; though. Heaven knows, every principle of 
my nature cried out against it. Surely for all this I deserve 
some kind consideration." 

'Tis a great pity your prudence did not hold out to the last ; 
and I can assure you 'tis well for the safety of your life and 
person that you were a woman, else would it have gone hard 
with you. Kited through the streets with a coat of tar and a 
plumage of hen-feathers, you would have been treated to a rail- 
ride, none the most complimentary.'' Here Miss Jane laughed 
heartily at the ridiculous picture she had drawn. 

Miss Bradly's face reddened deeply as she replied : 



238 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" And ali this would have teeu inflicted upon me because I 
dared to have an opinion upon a subject of vital import to this 
our proud Eepublic. This would have been the gracious hos- 
pitality, which, as chivahy-loving Southerners, you would have 
shown to a stranger from the Xorth ! If this be your mode 
and manner of carrying out the Comity of States, I am heartily 
glad that I am about returning to the other side of the bor- 
der.'' 

"And we give you joy of your swift return. Pray, tell all 
your Abolition friends that such will be their reception, should 
they dare to venture among us." 

" Yet, as with tearful eyes you stood round your brother's 
death-bed, you solemnly promised him that his dying wish, with 
regard to the liberation of your father's shaves, should be carried 
out, and that you would never become the owner of such 
property." 

Stop ! stop !" exclaimed Miss Jane, and her face was livid 
with rage, " you have no right to recur to that time. You are 
inhuman to introduce it at this moment. Every one of common 
sense knows that brother was too young to have formed a cor- 
rect opinion upon a question of such momentous value to the 
entire government ; besides, a promise made to the dying is 
never binding. Why should it be? We only wished to relieve 
him from anxiety. Father would sell every drop of his blood 
before he would grant a negro liberty. He is against it in prin- 
ciple. So am I. Negroes were made to serve the whites ; for 
that purpose only were they created, and I am not one who is 
vrilling to thwart their Maker's wise design." 

Miss Jane imagined she had spoken quite conclusively and 
displayed a vast amount of learning. She looked around for 
admiration and applause, which was readily given her by her 
complimentary sister. 

" Ah, Jane, you should have been a man, and practiced law. 
The courts would have been the place for the display of your 
brilliant talents." 

But the halls of legislation would not, I fear,'' said Miss 



THE SISTERS. 



239 



Bradly, have had tlie benefit of her wise, just, and philan- 
thropic views." 

I should never have allowed the Abolitionists their present 
weight of influence, whilst the power of speech and the strength 
of action remained to me,'' answered Miss Jane, very tartly. 

Oh no, doubtless you would have met the Douglas in his 
hall, and the lion in his den," laughingly replied Miss Bradly. 

Thus the conversation was carried on, upon no very friendly 
terms, until Miss J ane espied me, when she thundered out, 

" Leave the room, Ann, weVe no use for negro company 
here, unless, indeed, as I think most probable. Miss Bradly came 
to visit you, in which case she had better be shown to tho 
kitchen." 

This insult roused Miss Bradly's resentment, and she rose, 
saying, 

*^ Young ladies, I came this evening to take a pleasant adieu, 
little expecting to meet with such treatment ; but be it as you 
wish ; I take my leave;" and, with a slight inclination of the 
head, she departed. 

"Oh, she is insulted !" cried Miss Tildy. 

" I don't care if she is', we owe her nothing. For teaching us 
she was well paid ; now let her take care of herself.'^ 
I *' I am going after her to say I did not wish to insult her ; for 
really, notwithstanding her Abolition sentiments, I dike her very 
much, and I wish her always to like me.'^ 

So she started off and overtook Miss Bradly at the gate. 
The explanation was, I presume, accepted, for they parted with 
j kisses and tears. 

That evening, when 1 was serving the table, Miss Jane re- 
ported the conversation to her father, who applauded her man- 
ner of argument greatly. 

Set my niggers free, indeed ! Catch ine doing any such 
foolish thing. I'd sooner be shot. Don't you look for anything 
of the kind, Ann ; I'd sooner put you in my pocket." 

And this was the way he kept a sacred promise to his dead 
son ! But cases such as this are numerous. The negro is 



240 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



lulled with promises by humane masters — promises such as those 
that led the terror-stricken Macbeth on to his fearful doom. 
They 

Keep the word of promise to the ear, 
But break it to the hope." 

How many of them are trifled with and lured on ; buoyed up 
from year to year with stories, which those who tell them are 
resolved shall never be realized. 

My memory runs back now to some such wretched recollec- 
tions ; and my heart shrivels and crumbles at the bare thought, 
like scorched paper. Oh, where is there to be found injustice 
like that which the American slaves daily and hourly endure, 
without a word of complaint ? *' We die daily" — die to love, 
to hope, to feeling, humanity, and all the high and noble gifts 
that make existence something more than a mere breathing span. 
We die to all enlargement of mind and expansion of heart. 
Our every energy is bound down with many bolts and bars; 
yet whole folios have been written by men calling themselves 
wise, to prove that we are by far the happiest portion of the 
population of this broad Union ! What a commentary upon the 
liberality of free men ! 

After the conversation with Miss Bradly, the young ladies 
began to resume their old severity, which the death of young 
master had checked ; but Mr. Peterkin still seemed moody and 
troubled. He drank to a frightful excess. It seemed to have 
increased his moroseness. He slept sounder at night, and later 
in the morning, and was swollen and bloated to almost twice his 
former dimensions. His face was a dark crimson purple ; he 
spoke but little, and then never without an oath. His daughters 
remarked the changp, but sought not to dissuade him. Perhaps 
they cared not if his excesses were followed by death. I had 
long known that they treated him with respect only out of ap- 
prehension that they would be cut short of patrimonial favors. 
But the death of young master had almost certainly insured 
them against this, and they were unusually insolent to their 



nature's charms. 



241 



father ; but this he appeared not to notice ; for he was too 
sottishlj drunk even to heed them. 

The necessity of wearing black, and the custom of remaining 
away from places of amusement, had forced Miss Jane to de- 
cline, or at least, postpone her trip to the city. 

I shall ever remember that summer as one of unusual luxu- 
riance. It seemed to me, that the forests were more redundant 
of foliage than I had ever before seen them. The wild flowers 
were gayer and brighter, and the sky of a more glorious blue; 
even the little feathered songsters sang more deliciously; and 
oh, the moonlight nights seemed wondrously soft and silvery, 
and the hosts of stars seven times multiplied ! I began to live 
again. Away through the old primeval woods I took occasion- 
ally a stolen ramble ! "Whole volumes of romance I drained 
from the ever-affluent library of Nature. I truly found — 

Tongues in the trees ; books, in the running brooks, 
Sermons in stones, and good in everything." 

It is impossible to imagine how much I enjoyed those solitary 
walks, few and far between as they were. I used to wonder 
why the ladies did not more enjoy the luxury of frequent com- 
munion with Nature in her loveliest haunts ! Strange, is it not, 
how little the privileged class value the pleasures and benefits 
by which they are surrounded ! I would have given ten years 
of my life (though considering my trouble, the sacrifice w^ould 
have been small) to be allowed to linger long beside the wind- 
ing, murmuring brook, or recline at the fountain, looking far 
away into the impenetrable blue above ; or to gather wild 
flowers at will, and toy with their tiny leaflets ! but indulgences 
such as these would have been condemned and punished as in- 
dolence. 

I cannot now, honestly, recall a single pleasure that was 
allowed me, during my long slavery to Mr. Peterkin. Then 
who can ask me, if I would not rather go back into bondage 
than live J aye live (that is the word), with the proud sense of 
freedom mine ? I have often been asked if the burden of find- 
1] 



242 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



ing food and raiment for myself was not great enough to make 
me wish to resign my liberty. No, a thousand times no ! Let 
me go half-clad, and meanly fed, but still give me the custody 
of my own person, without a master to spy into and question 
out my up-risings and down-sittings, and confine me like a 
leashed hound ! Slavery in its mildest phases (of which I 
have only heard, for I've always seen it in its darker terrors) 
must be unhappy. The very knowledge that you have no con- 
trol over yourself, that you are subject to the will, even whim, 
of another ; that every privilege you enjoy is yours only by 
concession, not right, must depress and all but madden the vic- 
tim. In no situation, with no flowery disguises, can the revolt- 
ing institution be made consistent with the free-agency of man, 
which we all believe to be the Divine gift. We have been and 
are cruelly oppressed ; why may we not come out with our 
petition of right, and declare ourselves independent ? For this 
were the infant colonies applauded ; who then shall inveigh 
against us for a practice of the same heroism ? Every word 
contained in their admirable Declaration, applies to us. 



CHAPTEE XXVII. 



THE AWFUL CONFESSION OF THE MASTER DEATH ; ITS COLD 

SOLEMNITY. 

Time passed on ; Mr. Peterkin drank more and more vio- 
lently. He had grown immense in size, and now slept nearly 
all the day as well as night. Dr. Mandy had told the young 
ladies that there was great danger of apoplexy. I frequently 
saw them standing off, talking, and looking at their father with 
a strange expression, the meaning of which I could not divine ; 
but sure I am there was no love in it, ^twas more like a surmise 
or inquiry, " How long will you be here I would not set 
down aught in malice," I would rather extenuate," yet am I 
bound in truth to say that I think their father's death was an 
event to v/hich they looked with pleasure. He had not been 
showy enough for them, nor had he loved such display as they 
wished : true, he allowed them any amount of money ; but he 
objected to conforming to certain fashions, which they consid- 
ered indispensable to their own position ; and this difference in 
ideas and tastes created much discord. They were not girls of 
feeling and heart. To them, a father was nothing more than 
an accidental guardian, whose duty it was to supply them with 
money. 

Late one night, when I had fallen into a profound sleep, such 
an one as I had not known for months, almost years, I was sud- 
denly aroused by a loud knocking at the cabin-door, and a 
shout of — 

Ann ! Ann !" 

I instantly recognized the sharp staccato notes of Miss Jane's 
voice ; and, starting quickly up, I opened the door, but half- 
dressed, and inquired what was wanting ? 

[243] 



244 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Are you one of the Seven Sleepers, that it requires such 
knocking to arouse jou 1 Here I've been beating and banging 
the door, and yet you still slept on." 

I stammered out something like an excuse ; and she told me 
master was very ill, and I must instantly heat a large kettle of 
water ; that Dr. Mandy had been sent for, and upon his arrival, 
prescribed a hot bath. 

As quickly as the fire, aided by mine and Sally's united 
efforts, could heat the water, it was got ready. Jake, Nace, 
and Dan lifted the large bathing-tub into Mr. Peterkin's room, 
filled it with the warm water, and placed him in it. The case 
was as Dr. Mandy had predicted. Mr. P. had been seized with 
a violent attack of apoplexy, and his life was despaired of. 

All the efforts of the physician seemed to fail. When Mr. 
Peterkin did revive, it was frightful to listen to him. Such 
revolting oaths as he used ! Such horrid blasphemy as poured 
from his lips, I shrink from the foulness of recording. 

Raving like a madman, he called upon God to restore his 
sou, or stand condemned as unjust. His daughters, in sheer 
affright, sent for the country preacher ; but the good man 
could effect nothing. His pious words were wasted upon ears 
duller than stone. 

I don't care a d — n for your religion. None of your hypo- 
critical prayin' round me," Mr. Peterkin would say, when the 
good parson sought to beguile his attention, and lead him to 
the contemplation of divine things. 

Frightful it was, to me, to stand by his bed-side, and hear 
him call with an oath for whiskey, which was refused. 

He had drunk so long, and v^o deeply, that now, when he 
was suddenly checked, the change was terrible to witness. He 
grew timid, and seemed haunted by terrible spectres. Anon 
he would call to some fair-haired woman, and shout out that 
there was blood, clotted blood, on her ringlets; then, rolling 
himself up in the bed covering, he would shriek for the skies 
and mountains to hide him from the meek reproach of those 
girlish eyes I 



CONFESSION. 245 

" Something terrible is on his memory," said the doctor to 
Miss Jane ? Do jou know aught of this V 
" Nothing," she replied with a shudder. 
Don't you remember,'* asked Miss Tildy, "how often 
Johnny's eyes seemed to recall a remorseful memory, and how 
father would, as now, cry for them to shut out that look which 
so tormented him ?" 

Yes, yes,'' and they both fled from the room, and did not 
again go near their father. On the third eveniug of his illness, 
when Dr. Mandy (who had been constantly with him) sat by 
his bed, holding his pulse, be turned on his side, and asked in 
a mild tone, quite unusual to him, 

" Doctor, must I die ? Tell me the truth ; I don^t want to 
be deceived.'- 

After a moment's pause, the doctor replied, " Yes, Mr. Peter- 
kin, I will speak the tnith ; I don't think you can recover from 
this attack, and, if I am not very much mistaken, but a few 
hours of mortal life now remain to you." 

" Then I must speak on a matter what has troubled me a 
good deal. If I was a good scholar I'd a writ it out, and left 
it fur you to read ; but as I warn't much edicated, I couldn't 
do that, so I'll jist tell you all, and relieve my mind.'' Here 
Mr. Peterkin's face assumed a frightful expression ; his eyes 
rolled teiTibly in his head, and blazed with an expression which 
no language can paint. His very hair seemed erect with ter- 
ror. 

Don't excite yourself; be calm ! Wait until another time 
then tell me." 

^ No, no, I must speak now, I feel it 'twill do me good. Long 
time ago I had a good kind mother, and one lovely sister;" 
and here his voice sank to a whisper. " My father I can't re- 
member ; he died when I was a baby. I was a wild boy ; a 
' brick,' as they usin' to call me. 'Way off in old Virginny I 
was born and raised. My mother was a good, easy "sort of 
woman, that never used any force with her chHdren, jist sich a 
person as should raise gals, not fit to manage onruly boys like 



246 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



me. I jist had mv own way ;^caine and went when I pleased. 
Mother didn t often reprove me ; whenever she did, it was in a 
gentle sort of way that I didn't mind at all. I'd promise far 
enough ; but then, I^d go and do my own way. So I growed 
up to the age of eighteen. I'd go off on little trips ; get my- 
self in debt, and mother 'd have to pay. She an' sis had to 
take in sewin' to support 'emselves, and me too. Wal, they 
didn't make money fast enough at this ; so they went out an' 
took in washin'. Sis, poor little thing, hired herself out by the 
day, to get extry money for to buy little knic-nacs fur mother, 
whose health had got mighty bad. Wal, their rent had fell 
due, and Lucy (my sister) and mother had bin savin' up money 
fur a good while, without sayin' anything to me 'bout it ; but 
of nights when they thought I was asleep, I seed 'em slip the 
money in a drawer of an old bureau, that stood in the room 
whar I slept. Wal, I owed some men a parcel of money, 
gamblin' debts, and they had bin sorter quarrelin' v/ith me 
'bout it, and railin' of me 'bout my want of spirit, and I was 
allers sort of proud an' very high-tempered. So I 'gan to 
think mother and Luce was a saving up money fur to buy 
finery fur 'em selves, an' I 'greed I'd fix 'em fur it. So one 
night I made my brags to the boys that I'd pay the next 
night, with intrust. Some of 'em bet big that I wouldn't do it. 
So then I was bound fur it. Accordin', next night I tiied to 
get inter the drawer; but found it fast locked. I tried agin. 
At length, with a wrinch, I bust it open, an' thar before me, all 
in bright specie, lay fifty dollars ! A big sum it 'peared to 
me, and then I was all afired with passion, for Luce had re- 
fused me when I had axed her to lend me money. Jist as I 
had pocketed it, an' was 'about to drive out of the room, Lucy 
opened the door, an' seein' the drawer wide open, she guessed 
it all. She gave one loud scream, saying, ' Oh, all our hard 
savin's is gone.' I made a sign to her to keep silent ; but she 
went on hallowin' and cotcht hold of me, an' by a sort of quare 
strength, she got her arm round me, an' her hand in my pocket, 
where the money was " 



REMORSE. 



247 



You musn't have this, indeed you musn't," said she, for it 
is to pay our rent." 

One desperate effort I made, an' knocked her to the floor. 
Her head struck agin the sharp part of the bureau, and the 
blood gushed from it; I give one loud yell for mother, an' then 
fled. Give me some water," he added, in a hollow tone. 

After moistening his lips, he continued : 

" Keachin' my companions, I paid down every cent of the 
money, principal and interest, then got my bet paid, and left 
'em, throwin' a few dollars toward 'em for the gineral treat. 

About midnight, soft as a cat, I crept along to our house ; 
and I knew from the light through the open shutter of the win- 
der, that she was either dead or dyin' ; for it was a rule at our 
house to have the lights put out afore ten. 

I slipped up close to the winder, and lookin' in, saw the 
very wust that I had expected — Lucy in her shroud ! A long, 
white sheet was spread over the body ! Two long candles burnt 
at the head and foot of the corpse. Three neighbor-women was 
watchin' with her. While I still looked, the side door opened, 
and mother came in, looking white as a ghost. She turned down 
the sheet from the body. I pressed my face still closer to the 
winder-pane ; and saw that white, dead face ; the forehead, 
where the wound had been given, was bandaged up. Mother 
knelt down, and cried out with a tone that froze my blood — 

' My child, my murdered child !' I did not tarry another 
minute; but with one loud yell bounded away. This scream 
roused the women, who seized up the candle and run out to the 
door. I looked back an' saw them with candles in hand, ex- 
amining round the house. For weeks I lived in the woods on 
herbs and nuts ; occasionally stoppin' at farm-houses, an' buyin' 
a leetle milk and bread, still I journeyed on toward the West, 
my land of promise. At last, on foot, after long travel, I reached 
Kaintuck. I engaged in all sorts of head-work, but did'nt suc- 
ceed very well till I began to trade in niggers ; then I made 
money fast enough. I was a hard master. It seemed like I 
was the same as that old Ishmael you read of in the old book ; 



248 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



my hand was agin every man, and every man's agin me. 
After while, I got mighty rich from tradin' in niggers, and mar- 
ried. These is my children. This is all of my story, — a had 
one 'tis too ; but, doctor, that boy, my poor, dead Johnny, was 
so like Lucy that he almost driv' me mad. At times he had a 
sartin look, jist like hern, that driv' a dagger to my heart. Oh, 
Lord ! if I die, what will become of me ] Give me some whis- 
key, doctor, I mus' have some, for the devil and all his imps 
seem to be here." 

He began raving in a frightful manner, and sprang out of 
bed so furiously that the doctor deemed it necessary to have 
him confined. Jake, Dan, and Xace were called in to assist in 
tying their master. It was with difficulty they accomplished 
their task ; but at last it was done. Panting and foaming at 
the mouth, this Goliath of human abominations lay ! He, who 
had so often bound negroes, was now by them bound down ! 
If he had been fully conscious, his indignation would have 
known no limits. 

Miss Jane sent for me to come to her room. I found her in 
hysterics. Immediately, at her command, I set about rubbing 
her head, and chafing her temples and hands with cologne; 
but all that I could do seemed to fall far short of affording any 
relief. It appeared to me that her lungs were unusually strong, 
for such screams I hardly ever listened to ; but her life was 
stout enough to stand it. The wicked are long-lived ! 

Miss Tildy had more self-control. She moved about the 
house with her usual indilterence, caring for and heeding no 
one, except as she bestowed upon me an occasional reprimand, 
which, to this day, I cannot think I deserved. If she mislaid an 
article of apparel, she instantly accused me of having sto- 
len it ; and persisted in the charge until it was found. She 
always accompanied her accusations with impressive blows. It 
is treatment such as this that robs the slave of all self-respect. 
He is constantly taught to look upon himself as an animal, 
devoid of all good attributes, without principle, and full of vice. 
If he really tries to practice virtue and integrity, he gets no 



THE CHAMBER OF DEATH. 



249 



credit for it. Honest for a nigger is a phrase much in use 
in Kentucky ; the satirical significance of which is perfectly 
understood hy the astute African. I knew that it was hard for 
me to hold fast to my principles amid such fierce trials. It was 
so common a charge — that of liar and thief — that despite my 
practice to the contrary, I almost began to accept the terms as 
deserved. In some cases, the human conscience is a flexile 
thing ! hut, thank Heaven ! mine withstood the trial ! 

On the morning of the fifth day after Mr. Peterkin's illness, 
his perturbed spirit, amid imprecations and blasphemies the 
most horrible, took its leave of the mortal tenement. Whither 
went it, oh, angel of mercy ? A fearful charge had his guar- 
dian-angel to render up. 

This was the second time I had witnessed the death of a 
human master. 1 had no tears ; and, as a veracious historian, 
I am bound to say that I regard it as a beneficent dispensation 
of Divine Providence. He, my tyrant, had gone to his Judge 
to render a fearful account of the dreadful deeds done in the 
body. 

After he was laid out and appropriately dressed, and the room 
darkened, the young ladies came in to look at him. I believe 
they wept. At least, I can testify to the premonitory symp- 
toms of weeping, viz.. the fluttering of white pocket-handker- 
chiefs, in close proximity to the eyes ! The neighbors gathered 
round them with bottles of sal-volatile, camphor, fans, &c., &c. 
There was no dearth of consolatory words, for they were rich. 
ThQiagh Mr. Peterkin's possessions were vast, he could carry 
no tithe of them to that land whither he had gone ; and at that 
bar before which he must stand, there would flash on him the 
stern eye of Justice. His trial there would be equitable and 
rigid. His money could avail him nought ; for thei'e were 
allowed no " packed juries," bribed and suborned witnesses, 
no wily attorneys to turn Truth astray; no subtleties and 
quibbles of litigation ; all is clear, straight, open, even-handed 
justice, and his own deeds, like a mighty cloud of evidence, 
11* 



250 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



would rise up against him — and so we consign him to his fate 
and to his mother earth. 

But he was befittingly buried, even with the rites of Chris- 
tianity ! There was a man in a white neck-cloth, with a sombre 
face, who read a psalm, offered up a well-worded prayer, gave 
out a text, and therefrom preached an appropriate, elegiac ser- 
mon. Not one, to be sure, in which the peculiar virtues of bro- 
ther Peterkin were set forth, but a sort of pious oration, wherein 
religion, practical and revealed, was duly encouraged, and 
great sympathy offered to the lovdy and bereaved daughters, 
&c., &c. 

The body was placed in a very fine coffin, and interred in 
the family burying-ground, near his wife and son! At the 
grave. Miss Jane, who well understood scenic effect, contrived 
to get up an attack of syncope, and fell prostrate beside the 
new-made grave. Of course "the friends" gathered round 
her with restoratives, and, shouting for air," they made an 
opening in the crowd, through which she was borne to a car- 
riage and driven home. 

I had lingered, tenderly, beside young master's tomb, little 
heeding what was passing around, when this theatrical excite- 
ment roused me. Oh ! does not one who has real trouble, 
heart-agony, sicken when he hears of these affectations of grief? 

Slowly, but I suspect with right-willing hearts, the crowd 
turned away from the grave, each betaking himself to his own 
home and pursuit. 

A few weeks after, a stately monument, commemorative of 
his good deeds, was erected to the memory of James Peterkin. 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 



THE BRIDAL — ITS CEREMONIES — A TRIP, AND A CHANGE OF 
HOMES — THE MAGNOLIA A STRANGER. 

Weeks rolled monotonously by after the death of Mr. Peter- 
kin. There T\-as nothing to break the cloud of gloom that en- 
veloped everything. 

The ladies were, as ever, cruel and abusive. Existence be- 
came more painful to me than it had been before. It seemed 
as if every hope was dead in my breast. An iron chain bound 
every aspiration, and I settled down into the lethargy of de- 
spair. Even Nature, all radiant as she is, had lost her former 
charms. I looked not beyond the narrow horizon of the pres- 
ent. The future held out to me no allurements, whilst the dark 
and gloomy past was an arid plain, without fountain, or flower, 
or sunshine, over which I dared not send my broken spirit. 

In this state of dreary monotony, I passed my life for 
months, until an event occurred which changed my whole after- 
fate. 

Mr. Summerville, who, it seems, had kept up a regular cor- 
respondence with Miss Jane, made us a visit, and, after much 
secret talking in dark parlors, long rambles through the woods, 
twilight and moonlight whisperings on the gallery, Miss Jane 
announced that there would, on the following evening, be per- 
formed a marriage ceremony of importance to all, but of very 
particular interest to Mr. Summerville and herself. 

Accordingly, on the evening mentioned, the marriage rite 
was solemnized in the presence of a few social friends, among 
whom Dr. Mandy and wife shone conspicuously. I duly plied 
the guests with wine, cakes and confections. 

Miss Tildy, by the advice of her bride-sister, enacted the 

[261] 



252 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



pathetic very perfectly. She vre-pt, sighed, and, I do believe, 
fainted or tried to faint. This was at the special suggestion 
of her sister, vrho duly commended and appreciated her. 

Mr. Summerville, for the several days that he remained with 
US, looked, and was, I suppose, the very personification of de- 
light. 

In about a week or ten days after the solemnization of the 
matrimonial rite, Mr. Summerville made his better half'^ (or 
worse, I know not which), understand that very important busi- 
ness urged his immediate return to the city. Of course, whilst 
the novelty of the situation lasted, she was as obedient and com- 
plaisant as the most exacting husband could demand, and instantly 
consented to her lord's request. She bade me get ready to 
accompany her ; and, as she had heard that people from the 
country were judged according to the wardrobe of their ser- 
vants, she prepared for me quite a decent outfit. 

One bright morning, I shall ever remember it, we started off 

with innumerable trunks, band-boxes, &c. — for the city of L . 

Without one feeling of regret, I turned my face from the Peter- 
kin farm. I never saw it after, save in dark and fearful dreams, 
from which I always awoke with a shudder. I felt half-eman- 
cipated, when my back was turned against it, and in the dis- 
tance loomed up the city and freedom. I had a queer fancy, that 
if the Peterkin influence were once thrown off, the rest would 
speedily succeed! 

If I had only been allowed, I could have shouted out like a 
school-boy freed from a difficult lesson ; but Miss Jane's check- 
ing glance was upon me, and 'twas like winter's frozen breath 
over a gladsome lake. 

I well remember the beautiful ride upon the boat, and how 
long and lingeringly I gazed over the guard, looking down at 
the blue, dolphin-like waves. All the day, whilst others lounged 
and talked, I was looking at those same curling, frothy billows, 
making, in my own mind, fifty fantastic comparisons, which 
then appeared to me very brilliant, but, since I have learned 
to think differently. Truly, the foam has died on the wave. 



THE HOTEL. 



253 



When night came on, wrapped in her sombre purple, yet glit- 
tering with a cuirass of stars and a helmet of planets, the 
waters sparkled and danced with a fahy-like beauty, and I 
thought I had never beheld anything half so ecstatic ! There 
was none on that crowded steamer who dreamed of the glory 
that was nestling, like a thing of love, deep and close down in 
the poor slave's breast ! 

To those who surrounded me, this was but an ordinary sight ; 
to me it was one of strange, unimagined lovelmess. I was careful, 
however, to disguise my emotions. I would have given worlds 
(had I been their possessor) to speak my joy in one wild word, 
or to shout it forth in a single cry. 

This pleasure, like all others, found its speedy end. The next 
morning, about ten o'clock, we landed in L — , a city of some 
commercial consequence in the West. Indeed, by old residents 
of the interior of Kentucky, it is regarded as " the cityP I have 
often since thought of my first landing there ; of its dusty, dirty 
coal-besmoked appearance ; of its hedge of drays, its knots of 
garrulous and noisy drivers, and then the line of dusky ware- 
houses, storage rooms, &;c. All this instantly rises to my mind 
when I hear that growing city spoken of. 

Mr. Summerville engaged one of the neatest-looking coaches 
at the wharf ; and into it Miss Jane, baggage and servant were 
unceremoniously hurried. I had not the privilege and scarcely 
the wish to look out of the coach-window, yet, from my crowded 
and uncomfortable position, I could catch a sight of an occa- 
sional ambitious barber's pole, or myriad-tinted chemists' bot- 
tles ; all these, be it remembered, were novelties to me, who* 
had never been ten miles from Mr. Peterkin's farm. At length 
the driver drew a halt at the G — House, as Mr. Summerville 
had directed, and, at this palatial-looking building Mr. Sum- 
merville had taken quarters. How well I recollect its wide 
hall, its gothic entrance and hospitable-looking vestibule ! The 
cane-colored floor cloth, corresponding with the oaken walls, 
struck me as the harmonious design of an artistic mind. 

For a few moments only was Miss Jane left in the neat re- 



254 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



ception-room, when a nice-looking mulatto man entered, and, in 
a low, gentlemanly tone, informed her that her room ^Yas ready. 
Taking the basket and portmanteau from me, he politely re- 
quested that we would follow him to room No. 225. Through 
winding corridors and interminable galleries, he conducted us, 
until, at last, we reached it. Drawing a key from his pocket, 
he a^Dplied it to the lock, and bade Miss Jane enter. She was 
much pleased with the arrangement of the furniture, the adjust- 
ment of the drapery, &c. 

The floor was covered with a beautiful green velvet carpet, 
torn bouquet pattern, whilst the design of the rug was one that 
well harmonized with the disjiosition of the present tenant. It 
was a wild tiger reposing in his native jungle. 

After Miss Jane had made an elaborate toilette, she told me, 
as a great favor, she would allow me to go down stairs, or walk 
through the halls for recreation, as she had no further use 
for me. 

I wandered about, passing many rooms, all numbered in gilt 
figures. The most of them had their doors open, and I amused 
myself watching the different expressions of face and manners 
of their occupants. This had always been a habit of mine, for 
the indulgence of which, however, I had had but little oppor- 
tunity. 

I strayed on till I reached the parlors, and they burst upon 
me with the necromantic power of Aladdin's hall. A continuity 
of four apartments rolled away into a seeming mist, and the 
adroit position of a mirror multiplied their number and added 
greatly to the gorgeous effect. There were purple and golden 
curtains, with their many tinsel ornaments ; carpets of the gayest 
style, from the richest looms. "Etruscan vases, quaint and old'* 
adorned the mantel-shelf, and easy divans and lounges of mosaic- 
velvet were ranged tastefully around. An arcade, with its stately 
pillars, divided two of the rooms, and the inter-columniations 
were ornamented with statues and statuettes ; and upon a marble 
table, in the centre of one of the apartments, was a blocmiug 
mao-nolia, the first one I had ever seen ! That strange and 



THE MAGNOLIA. 



255 



mysterious odor, tliat, like a fine, inner, sub-sense, pervades tlie 
nerve with a quickening power, stole over me ! I stood before 
the flower in a sort of delicious, delirious joy. There, with its 
huge fan-like leaves of green, this pure white blossom, queen 
of all the tribe of flowers, shed its glorious perfume and un- 
folded its mysterious beauty. It seemed that a new life was 
opening upon me. Surely, I said, this is fairy land. For more 
than an hour I lingered beside that splendid magnolia, vainly 
essaying to drink in its glory and its mystery. 

Miss Jane and Mr. Summerville had gone out to take a drive 
over the city, and I was comparatively free, in their absence, to 
go whithersoever I pleased. 

Whilst I still loitered near the flower, a very sweet but manly 
voice asked : 

"Do you love flowers ?" 

I turned hastily, and to my surprise, beheld a fine-looking 
gentleman standing in close contiguity to me. With pleasure 
I think now of his broad, open face, written all over with love 
and kindness ; his deep, fervid blue eye, that wore such a 
gentle expression ; and the scant, yet fair hair that rolled away 
from his magnificent forehead ! He appeared to be slightly up- 
wards of ^fty ; but 1 am sure from his face, that those fifty 
years had been most nobly spent. 

I trembled as I replied : 

"Yes, I am very fond of flowers." 

He noticed my embarrassment, and smiled most benignantly. 

Did you ever see a magnolia before V 
" Is this a magnolia ?" I inquired, pointing to the luxurious 
flower. 

" Yes, and one of the finest I ever saw. It belongs to the 
South. Are you sure you never saw one before ?" He fixed 
his eyes inquiringly upon me as I answered : 

*'0h, quite sure, sir; I never was ten miles from my master's 
farm in my life." 

"You are a slave ?" 

" Yes, sir. I am." 



256 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



He waited a moment, then said : 
" Are you happy ?" 

I dai'e4 not tell a falsehood, yet to have truly stated my feel- 
ings, would have been dangerous ; so I evasively replied : 

" Yes, as much so as m6st slaves." 

I thought I heard him sigh, as he slowly moved away. 

My eyes followed. him with inquiring wonder. Who could 
he be ? Certain I was that no malice had prompted the ques- 
tion he had asked me. The circumstance created anxiety in 
my mind. All that day as I walked about, or waited on Miss Jane, 
that stranger's faces hone like a new-risen moon upon my darken- 
ed heart. Had I found, accidentally, one of those Northern 
Abolitionists, about whom I had heard so much ? Often after 
when sent upon errands for my mistress, I met him in the halls, 
and he always gave me a kind smile and a friendly salutation. 
Once Miss Jane observed this, and instantly accused me of hav- 
ing a dishonorable acquaintance with him. My honor was a 
thing that I had always guarded with the utmost vigilance, and 
to such a serious charge I perhaps made some hasty reply, 
whereupon Miss Jane seized a riding-whip, and cut me most 
severely across the face, leaving an ugly mark, a trace of which 
I still bear, and suppose I shall carry to my grave. Mr. Siim- 
merville exj^ostulated with his wife, saying that it was better to 
use gentle means at first. 

No, husband," (she always thus addressed him,) I know 
more about the management of niggers than you do.^^ 

This gross pronunciation of the word negro has a popular 
use even among the upper and educated classes of Ken- 
tucky. I am at a loss to account for it, in any other way 
than by supposing that they use it to express their deepest 
contempt. 

Mr. Summerviile was rather disposed to be humane to his ser- 
vants. He was no advocate of the rod ; he used to term it 
the relic of barbarism. He preferred selling a refractory ser- 
vant to whipping him. This did not accord particularly 
well with ^liss Jane's views, and the consequence was they 



THE NEW ACaUAINTANCE. 



257 



had many a little private argument that did not promise to end 
well. 

Miss Jane made many acquaintances among the boarders in 
the hotel, with whom she was much pleased. She had frequent 
invitations to attend the theatre, concerts, and even parties. 
Many of the fashionables of the city called upon her, offering, 
in true Kentucky style, the hospitalities of their mansions. With 
this she was quite delighted, and her new life became one of in- 
tense interest and gratification, as her letters to her sister 
proved. 

She would often regret Tildy was not there to share in her 
delight ; but it had been considered best for her to remain at 
the old homestead until some arrangement could be made about 
the division of the estate. Two of the neighbors, a gentleman 
and his wife, took up their abode with her ; but she expected to 
visit the city so soon as Miss Jane went to house-keeping, 
which Avould be in a few months. Miss Jane was frequently out 
spending social days and evenings with her friends, thus giving 
me the opportunity of going about more than I had ever done 
through the house. In this way I formed a pleasant acquaintance 
with several of the chambermaids, colored girls and free. Friend- 
ships thus grew up which have lasted ever since, and will con- 
tinue, I trust, until death closes over us. One of the girls, 
Louise, a half-breed, was an especial favorite. She had read 
some, and was tolerably well educated. From her I often bor- 
rowed interesting books, compends of history, bible-stories, 
poems, &c. I also became a furious reader of newspapers, thus 
picking up, occasionally, much useful information. Louise in- 
troduced me, formally, to the head steward, an intelligent mu- 
latto man, named Henry, of most prepossessing appearance ; but 
the shadow of a great grief lurked in the full look of his large 
dark eye I " I am a slave, God help me!" seemed stamped 
upon his face ; 'twas but seldom that I saw him smile, and then 
it was so like the reflection of a tear, that it pained me full as 
much as his sigh. He had access to the gentlemen's read- 
ing-room ; and through him I often had the opportunity of 



258 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



reading the leading Anti-slavery journals. TVitli what avidity 
I devoured them ! How full they were of the noblest philan- 
thropy ! Great exponents of real liberty ! at the words of your 
argument my heart leaped like a new-fledged bird ! Still pour 
forth your burning eloquence ; it will yet blaze like a watchfire 
on the Mount of Liberty ! The gladness, the hope, the faith it 
imparted to my long-bowed heart, would, I am sure, give joy 
to those noble leaders of the great cause. 



OH APTEE 



XXIX. 



THE ARGUMENT. 

One day, when Miss Jane and Mr. Summerville had gone 
out at an early houl: to spend the entire day, I little knew what 
to do with myself as I had no books nor papers to read, and 
Louise had business that took her out of the house. 

The day was unusually soft and pleasant. I wandered 
through the halls, and, drawing near a private gallery that ran 
along in front of the gentlernen's room, I paused to look at a 
large picture of an English fox-chase, that adorned the wall. 
Whilst examining its rare and peculiar beauties, my ear was 
pleasantly struck by the sound of a much-esteemed voice, 
saying— 

Well, very well ! Let us take seats here, in this retired 
place, and begin the conversation we have been threatening so 
long." 

I glanced out at the crevice of the partially open door, and 
distinctly recognized the gentleman who had spoken to me of 
the magnolia, and who (I had learned) was James Trueman, 
of Boston, a man of high standing and social position, and a 
successful practitioner of law in his native State. 

The other was a gentleman from Virginia, one of the very 
first families (there are no second, I believe), by the name of 
Winston, a man reputed of very vast possessions, a land-holder, 
and an extensive owner of slaves. I had frequently observed 
him in company with Mr. Trueman, and had inquired of Henry 
who and what he was. 

I felt a little reluctant to remain in my position and hear this 
conversation, not designed for me ; yet a singular impulse urged 

[259] 



260 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 

me to remain. I felt (-dud I scarce know why) that it had a 
bearing upon the great moral and social question that so 
agitated the country. Whilst I was debating with myself 
about the propriety of a retreat, I caught a few words, which 
determined me to stay and hear what I believed would prove 
an interesting discussion. 

Let us, my dear 3Ir. Winston," began Mr. Trueman, ''in- 
dulge for a few moments in a conversation upon this momentous 
subject. Both of us have passed that time of life when the 
ardor and impetuosity of youthful blood might unfit us for such 
a discussion, aud we may say what we please on thi^vexed 
question with the distinct understanding, that however offensive 
our language may become, it will be regarded as general, neither 
meant nor understood to have any application to ourselves." 

I am quite willing and ready to converse as you propose,'^ 
replied the other, in a quick, unpleasant tone, *' and I gladly 
accept the terms suggested, in which you only anticipate my 
design. It is well to agree upon such restraint ; for though, as 
you remind me, our advancing years have taken much of the 
fervor from our blood, and left us calm, sober, thoughtful men, 
the agitating nature of the subject and the deep interest which 
both of us feel in it, should put us on our guard. If, then, 
during the progress of the conversation, either of us shall be 
unduly excited, let the recollection of the conditions upon which 
we engage in it, recall him to his accustomed good-humor." 

Well, we have settled the preliminaries without difficulty, 
and to mutual satisfaction. And now, the way being clear, our 
discussion may proceed. I assume, then, in the outset, that the 
institution of slavery, as it exists iu the South, is a monstrous 
evil. I assume this proposition ; not alone because it is the 
•universal sentiment of the ' rest of mankind but also, because 
it is now very generally conceded -by slave-holders themselves." 

*' Pray, where did you learn that slave-holders ever made such 
a concession ? As to what may be the sentiment of the * rest 
of mankind,' I may speak by-and-bye. For the present, my 
concern is with the opinion of that large slave-holding class to 



THE ARGUMENT. 



261 



which I belong. I am extensively acquainted among them, 
and if that is their opinion of our peculiar institution, I am en- 
tirely ignorant of it." 

" Your ignorance/' said Mr. Trueman, with a smile, in that 
regard, while it by no means disproves my proposition, may be 
easily explained. With your neighbors, who feel like yourself 
the dread responsibility of this crying abomination, it is not 
pleasant, perhaps, to talk upon it, and you avoid doing so with- 
out the slightest trouble ; because you have other and more 
engaging topics, such as the condition of your farms, the pros- 
pect of fine crops, and all the * changes of the varying year.' 
But, read the declarations of your chosen Representatives, the 
favorite sons of the South, in the high councils of our nation ; 
and you will discover, that in all the debates involving it, 
slavery, in itself, and in its consequences, is frankly admitted to 
be a tremendous evil." 

*'Our Representatives may have sometimes thought proper 
to make such an admission to appease the fanaticism of North- 
ern Abolitionists, and to quiet the agitation3 of the country in 
the spirit of generous compromise : but / am not bound to make 
it, and 1 will not make it. Neither do I avoid conversations with 
my neighbors upon the subject of slavery from the motive you 
intimate, nor from any other motive. I have frequently talked 
with them upon it, boldly and candidly, as I am prepared to 
talk to you or any reasonable man. Your proposition I posi- 
tively deny, and can quickly refute. I thought there was a 
little anger in the tone in which he said this ; but no excitement 
was discernible in the clear, calm voice with which Mr. True- 
man answered — 

Independently of the admission of your Representatives, 
which, I think, ought to bind you (for you must have been 
aware of it, and since it was public and undisputed, your 
acquiescence might be fairly presumed), there are many con- 
siderations that establish the truth of my position. But I can- 
not indorse your harsh reflection upon the Representatives of 
your choice. I cannot believe them capable of admitting, for 



262 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



any purpose, a proposition wliicli, in their opinion and tliat of 
tlieir constituents, asserts a falseliood. The immortal Henry- 
Clay and such men as he are responsible for the admission, and 
not one of them was ever so timid as to be under the dominion 
of fear, or so dishonest as to be hypocritical." 

A moment's pause ensued, when Mr. Winston appeared to 
rally, and said, 

'* I do not understand, then, if that was their real opinion, 
how it was possible for them to continue to hold slaves. To 
say the least of it, their practice was not in accordance with 
their theory. Hence I said, that under certain circumstances 
and to serve a special purpose, they may have conceded slav- 
ery to be an evil. For my own part, if I were persuaded that 
this proposition is true, it would constrain me to liberate all my 
slaves, whatever may be my attachment to them or the loss I 
should necessarily suffer. Some of them have been acquired 
by purchase ; others by inheritance : all of them seem satisfied 
with their treatment upon my estate ; yet nothing could induce 
me to claim the property I have hitherto thought I possessed 
in them, when convinced of the evil which your proposition 
asserts." 

" Nothing could be fairer, my dear Mr. Winston. Your con- 
viction will doubtless subject you to immense sacrifices : but 
these will only enhance your real worth as a man, and I am 
sure you will make them without hesitation, though it may be, 
not without reluctance. Xow, it is a principle of law, well 
settled, that no person can in any manner convey a title, even 
to those things which are property, greater than that which he 
rightfully possesses. If, fjr instance, I acquire, by theft or 
otherwise, unlawful possession of your watch or other articles of 
value, which is transferred, by the operation of purchase and 
sale, through many hands, your right never ceases; and the 
process of law will enable you to obtain possession. Each in- 
dividual who purchased the article, may have his remedy 
against him from whom he procured it, however extended the 
series of purchasers : but, since whatever right any one of them 



PROGRESS OF THE ARGUMENT. 



263 



has was derived originally from me, and since my unlawful 
acquisition conferred no right at all, it follows that none was 
transmitted. Consequently, you were not divested, and the just 
spirit of law, continuing to recognize your property in the arti- 
cle whenever found, provides the ready means whereby you may 
reduce it once more to possession. This principle of law is not 
peculiar to a single locality ; it enters into the remedial code of 
all civilized countries. Its benefits are accessible to the free 
negro in this land of the dark Southern border ; and, I trust, it 
will not be long before those who are now held in slavery may 
be embraced in its beneficent operation. Whether it is recog- 
nized internationally, I am not fully prepared to say ; but it 
ought to be, if it is not, for it is the dictate of equity and com- 
mon sense. But, upon the hypothesis that it is so recognized, 
if the property of an inhabitant of Africa were stolen from him 
by a citizen of the United States, he might recover it. As for 
those people who, in the Southern States, are held as slaves, 
they or their ancestors came here originally not by their own 
choice, but by compulsion, from distant Africa. You will hardly 
deny, I presume, what is, historically, so evident — that " they 
were captured," as the phrase is, or, in our honest vernacular, 
stolen and brought by violence from their native homes. Had 
they been the proper subjects of property, what could prevent 
the application of the principle I have quoted 

After two or three hems and haws, Mr. Winston began : 
*' I have never inquired particularly into the matter ; but have 
always entertained the impression which pervades the Southern 
mind, that our negroes are legitimately our slaves, in pursuance 
of the malediction denounced by God against Ham and his de- 
scendants, of whom they are a part. And, so thinking, I be- 
lieved we were entitled to the same right to them which we 
exercise over the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, and 
the fishes of the deep. Moreover, your principle of law, which 
is indeed very correct, is inapplicable to their case. There is 
also a principle in the law of my State, incapacitating slaves to 
hold property. They are property themselves ; and property 



264 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



cannot hold property. A-part from the terrible curse, which 
doomed them in the beginning, thej were slaves in their 
own country to men of their own race ; slaves by right of con- 
quest. Therefore, taking the instance you have suggested, by 
way of illustration, were any article of value wrested from 
their possession, under this additional principle, the law could 
not give them any redress. But, inasmuch as whatever they 
may acquire becomes immediately the propert}^ of their master, 
to him the law will furnish a remedy." 

You do not deny," and here Mr. Trueman's tone was ele- 
vated and a little excited, that the first of those who reached 
this country were stolen in Africa. Now, for the sake of the 
argument merely, I will admit that they were slaves at 
home. If they were slaves at home — it matters not wheth- 
er by * right or conquest,' or * in pursuance of the curse,' 
they must have been the property of somebody, and those 
who stole them and sold them into bondage in America 
could give no valid title to their purchasers ; for by the 
theft they had acquired none themselves. Hence, if ever they 
were slaves, they are still the property of their masters in 
Africa ; but, if your interpretation of the curse " is con-ect, 
those masters were also slaves, and, being such, under the 
principle of law which you have quoted, they could not for this 
reason hold property. Therefore, those oppressed and out- 
raged, though benighted people, who were first sold into 
slavery, to the eternal disgrace of our land, were, in sheer jus- 
tice, either Jree, or the property — even after the sale — of their 
African masters, if they had any ; in neither case could they 
belong to those of our citizens who were unfortunate enough to 
buy them. They were not slaves of African masters : for, ac- 
cording to your argument, all of the race are slaves, and 
slaves cannot own slaves any more than horses can own horses ; 
therefore, since no other people claimed dominion over them, 
they were, necessarily, free. You cannot escape from this 
dilemma, and the choice of either horn is fatal to your cause. 
Being free, might they not have held property like other na- 



THE ARGUMENT. 265 

tions ? And, had any of it been stolen from them by those 
who are amenable to our laws, would not consistency compel 
us, who recognize the just principle I have quoted, to restore it 
to them ? This is the course pursued among ourselves ; and it 
ceases not with restoration ; but on the offender it proceeds to 
inflict punishment, to prevent a repetition of the offence. This 

js the course we should pursue toward that down-trodden race 
whose greatest guilt is * a skin not colored like our own.' 

As the case stands, it is not a question of property, but of that 
more valuable and sacred right, the right of -personal liberty ^ of 
which we now boast so loudly. What, in the estimation of the 
world, is the worth of those multitudinous orations, apostrophies 
to liberty, which, on each recurring Fourth of July, in whatever 
quarter of the globe Americans may be assembled, penetrate 
the public ear ? What are they worth to us, if, while remind- 
ing us of early colonial and revolutionary struggles against the 
galling tyranny of the British crown, they fail to inculcate the 
easy lesson of respect for the rights of all mankind ? In keep- 
ing those poor Africans in the South still enslaved, you practi- 
cally ignore this lesson, and you trample with unholy feet that 
divine ordinance which commands you ' to do unto others as 
you would have others do unto you.' By the oppression to 
which we were subjected under the yoke of Britain, and against 
which we wrestled so long, so patiently, so vigorously, in so 
many ways, and at last so triumphantly, I adjure you to put 
an end, at once and forever, to this business of holding slaves. 
This is oppression indeed, in comparison with which, that which 
drew forth our angry and bitter complaints, was very freedom. 
Let us, instead of perpetuating this infamous institution, be true 
to ourselves ; let us vindicate the pretensions we set up when 

I we characterize ours as ' the land of liberty, the asylum of the 

I oppressed,' by proclaiming to the nations of the earth that, so 
soon as a slave touches the soil of America, his manacles shall 

\ fall from him : let us verify the words engraven in enduring 
brass on the old bell which from the tower of Independence 
Hall rang out our glorious Declaration, and in deed and in truth 
12 



266 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



proclaim * Liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison 
doors to them that are bound.' As you value truth, honor, 
justice, consistency, aye, humanity even, wipe out the black 
blot ^Yhich defiles the border of our escutcheon, and the coun- 
try will then be in reality what is now only in name, a free 
country, loving liberty disinterestedly for its own sake, and for 
that of all people, and nations, and tribes, and tongues. , 

You may still, if you choose, dispute and philosophize about 
the inequality of races, and continue to insist on the "boasted 
superiority of our Caucasian blood ; but the greatest disadvan- 
tages which a comparison can indicate will not prove that one's 
claim to liberty is higher than another's. It may be that we 
of the white race, are vastly superior to our African brethren. 
The dififerences, however, are not flattering to us ; for we should 
remember with shame and confusion of face, that our injustice 
and cruelty have produced them. Having first enslaved the 
poor Africans and subsequently withheld from them every 
means of improvement, it is not strange that such differences 
should exist as those on which we plume ourselves. But is it 
not intolerable that we should now quote them with such brazen 
self-gratulation ? 

Despite the manifold disadvantages that encumber and clog 
the movements of the Africans, unfortunately for the validity 
of your argument their race exhibits many proud specimens 
to prove their capability of culture, and of the enjoyment of 
freedom. Give them but the same opportunities that we have, 
and they will rival us in learning, refinement, statesmanship, 
and general demeanor, as is incontestibly shown in the lives 
and characters of many now living. Such men as Fred Douglas 
and President Roberts, would honor any complexion ; or, 1 
ought rather to say, should make us forget and despise the dis- 
tinctions of color, since they reach not below the surface of the 
skin, nor affect, in the least, that better part that gives to man 
all his dignity and worth. Nor need I point to these illustrious 
examples to rebut the inferences you deduce from color. Every 
village and hamlet in your own sunny South, can furnish an 



INTEREST OF THE ARGUxMENT. 



267 



abundant refutation, in its obscure but eloquent * colored 
preachers' — noble patterns of industry and wisdom, who show 
forth, by their exemplary bearing, all the beauty of holiness, — 
* allure to brighter worlds and lead the way.' " 

It is impossible to furnish even the faintest description of the 
pleading earnestness of the speaker's tone. His full, round, 
rich voice, grew intense, low and silvery in its harmonious utter- 
ance. As he pronounced the last sentence, it was with difficulty 
I could repress a cry of applause. Oh, surely, surely, I 
thought, our cause, the African's cause, is not helpless, is not 
lost, whilst it still possesses such an advocate. My eyes over- 
flow^ed with grateful tears, and I longed to kiss the hem of his 
garment. 

You forget," answered Mr. Winston, or you would do well 
to consider, that these cases are exceptional cases, which neither 
preclude my inferences nor warrant your assumption." 

Exceptions, indeed, they are ; but why ?" inquired Mr. 
Trueman. *^ Exceptions, you know, prove the rule . Xow, you 
infer from the sooty complexion of, the Africans, a natural and 
necessary incapacity for the blessings of self-government and 
the refinements of education. I have mentioned individuals of 
this fatal complexion who are in the wise enjoyment of these 
sublime privileges : one of them has acquired an enviable 
celebrity as an orator, the other is the accomplished President 
of the infant Liberian Republic. If color incapacitated, as you 
seem to think, it would affect all alike ; but it has not incapaci- 
tated these, therefore it does not incapacitate at all. These are 
exceptions not to the general capacity of the blacks , but only 
to their general opportunity. What they have done others 
may do — the opportunities being equal.'' 

" I have listened to you entire argument," rejoined Mr. 
Winston, " very patiently, with the expectation of hearing the 
proposition sustained with which you so vauntingl}^ set out. 
You will, perhaps, accord to me the credit of being — what in this 
age of ceaseless talk is rarely met — 'a good listener.' But, after 
all my patience and attention, I am still unsatisfied — if not un- 



268 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



shaken. You have failed to meet the argument drawn from 
the * curse' pronounced on the progenitors of the unfortunate 
race : you have failed to present or notice what is generally 
considered by theologians and moralists the right of a 
purchaser — in your illustration from stolen goods — to something 
for the money with which he parts ; and here, I think, you 
manifested great unfairness ; and, above all, you have failed to 
propose any feasible remedy for the state of tjiings against 
which you inveigh. What have you to say on these material 
points ?" 

** Very much, my good sir, as you will find, if, instead of 
taking advantage of every m.omentary pause to make out such 
a * failure' as you desire, you only prolong your very compli- 
mentary patience. I wish you to watch the argument narrowly; 
to expose the faintest flaw you can detect in it ; and, at the 
end, if unsatisfied, cry out * failure,' or let it wring from you a 
reluctant confession. You will, at least, before I shall have 
done, withdraw the illiberal imputation of unfairness. It would 
be an easy task for me to anticipate all you can say, and to re- 
fate it ; but such a course would leave you nothing to say, and, 
since I intend this discussion to be strictly a conversation, I 
shall leave you at liberty to present your own arguments in 
your own way. Xow, as to the argument from * the curse,' you 
must permit me to observe, that your interpretation is too free 
and latitudinarian. Mine is more literal, more in accordance 
with the character of God ; it fully satisfies the Divine 
vengeance, and, whether correct or not, has, at least, as much 
authority in its favor. Granting the dominion of the white over 
the black race to be in virtue of * the curse/ it by no means 
conveys such power as your Southern institution seeks to justify^ 
The word slave nowhere occurs in that memorable maledic- 
tion ; but there is an obvious distinction between its import and 
that of the word servant, which it does employ. Surely, for 
the offence of looking upon the nakedness of his father, Ham 
could not have incurred and entailed upon his posterity a 
heavier punishment than they would necessarily suffer as the 



INTEREST OF THE ARGUMENT. 



269 



simple servants of their brethren. And this consideration 
should induce you to give them, at least, the same share of 
freedom as is enjoyed by the white servants to be found in many 
a household in the South Such servitude would be the utmost 
that a merciful God could require. Even this, however, was 
under the old dispensation ; and the reign of its laws, customs, 
and punishments, should melt under the genial rays of the sun 
of Christianity. Many of your own patriots, headed by Wash- 
ington and Jefferson, have long since thought so ; and but few 
in these days plead * the curse' as excuse or justification for that 
* damned spot' which all will come ultimately to consider the 
disgrace of this enlightened age and nation. As to your next 
point, the right which a purchaser of stolen goods may acquire 
in them in consideration of the money which he pays, I grant 
all the benefit that even the most generous theologian or moral- 
ist can allow in the best circumstances of such a case. And 
what does this amount to ? A return of the purchase-money, 
with a reasonable or very high rate of interest for the detention, 
would be as much as any one could demand. Applying this to 
the case of the stolen Africans, how many of those who were 
forced from their native land to this have died on their master^s 
hands without yielding by their labor, not alone the principah 
but a handsome percentage upon the money invested in their 
purchase '? Thus purchasers were indemnified — abundantly 
indemnified, against loss. The indemnity, however, should have 
been sought from the seller, not from the article or person sold. 
But, at best, purchasers of stolen goods, to entitle themselves 
to any indemnity, should at least be innocent ; for if they 
buy such goods, knowing them to he stolen, they are gviilty 
of a serious misdemeanor, which is everywhere punishable 
under the law. ' He who asks equity must do equity.' 
When, therefore, you of the South would realize the benefit of 
the concession of theologians and moralists — the benefit of jus- 
tice — you should bring yourselves within the conditions they 
require ; you should come into court with clean hands, and 
with the intention of acting in good faith. Have you done so ? 



270 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Did your fathers do so before you ? Not at all. Tliey were not 
ignorant purchasers of the poor, ravished African ; they knew 
full well that he had been stolen and brought by violence from 
his distant home : consequently, they were guilty of a misde- 
meanor in purchasing ; consequently, too, they come not within 
th.e case proposed by the theologians and moralists, which might 
entitle them to indemnity ; nor were they in a condition to 
ask it. The present generation, claiming through them, find 
themselves in the same predicament, with the same title only, 
and the same unclean hands, perpetuating their foul oppression. 
None of them, as I have shown, had a right to claim indemnity 
by reason of having invested their money in that way ; and, if 
they ever had such right, they have been richly indemnified 
already. Therefore, it is absurd for you to continue the slave 
business upon this plea. Having thus answered your only ob- 
jections to my position, I might remind you of your determina- 
tion, and call upon you to ' liberate your slaves,' and take sides 
with me in opposition to the cruel institution. You are greatly 
mistaken in supposing that my omission to propose a plan, by 
which slave-holders could conveniently, and without 'pecuniary 
loss, emancipate their slaves, constitutes the slightest objection 
to the argument I have advanced. If you defer their emanci- 
pation until such a plan is proposed ; if you are unwilling to 
incur even a little sacrifice, what nobility will there be in the 
act, to entitle you to the consideration of the just and good, or 
to the approval of your own consciences ? I sought by this 
discussion, to convince you that slavery is an enormous evil ; 
the proposition was declared in all its boldness. You volun- 
teered a pledge to release your slaves if I could sustain it, let 
the sacrifice be what it might. Some sacrifice, then, you must 
have anticipated ; and, should your conviction now demand it, 
you have no cause to complain of me. Your pledge was alto- 
gether voluntary ; I did not even ask it ; nor did I design to 
suggest any such plan of universal emancipation as would suit 
the convenience of everybody. I am not so extravagantly silly 
as to hope to do that. But, after all, why wait for a plan ^ 



THE ARGUMENT CONTINUED. 271 

Immediate, universal emancipation is not impracticable, and 
numberless methods might and would at once be devised, if 
the people of your States were sincere when they profess to 
desire its accomplishment. Their real wish, however, whatever 
it may be, need not interfere between your individual pledge, 
and its prompt fulfilment." 

Mr. Trueman paused for full five minutes, and, as I peered 
out from my hiding-place, I thought there was a very quizzical 
sort of expression on his fine face. 

Well, what have you to say he at length asked. 

It seems to me," Mr. Winston began, in an angry tone, 
" you speak very flippantly and very wildly about general eman- 
cipation. Consider, sir, that slavery is so woven into our society, 
that there is scarcely a family that would not be more or less 
affected by a change. Fundamental alterations in society, to be 
safely made, must be the slow work of years : 

* Not the hasty product of a day, 
But the well-ripened fruit of wise delay.' 

So it is only by almost imperceptible degrees that the emancipa- 
tionists and impertinent Abolitionists can ever attain * the con- 
summation ' they pretend to have so much at heart. If they 
would just stay at home and devote their spare time to cleansing 
their own garments, leaving us of the South to suffer alone what 
they are pleased to esteem the evil and sin and curse, the shame, 
burden and abomination of slavery, we should the sooner dis- 
cover its blasting enormities, and strive more zealously to abol- 
ish them and the institution from which they proceed. Their 
super-serv»iceable interference, hitherto, has only riveted and 
tightened the bondage of those with whom they sympathize ; 
and such a result will always attend it. Our slaves, as at present 
situated, are very well satisfied, as, indeed, they ought to be : 
for they are exempt from the anxious cares of the free, as to 
what they shall eat or what they shall drink, or wherewithal 
they shall be clothed. Many poor men of our own color would 
gladly exchange conditions with them, because they find life to 



272 AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 

« 

be a hard, an incessant struggle for the scantiest comforts, with 
which our slaves are supplied at no cost of personal solicitude. 
Besides, sir, our institution of slavery is vastly more burdensome 
to ourselves than to the negroes for whom you affect so much 
fraternal love." 

" One would suppose, that if you thought it burdensome, you 
would be making some effort to relieve yourselves/' interposed 
Mr. Trueman, in that clear and pointed manner that was his 
peculiarity ; " antl, if immediate emancipation were deemed im- 
practicable in consequence of the radical hold which this insti- 
tution has at the South, you might naturally be expected to be 
doing something toward that end by the encouragement of edu- 
cation among those in bondage, by the sanction of marriage ties 
between them, and by other efforts to ameliorate their condition. 
Certain inducements might be presented for the manumission of 
slaves by individual owners, for there are some of this class, I 
am happy to think, who, in tender humanity, would release 
their slaves, if the stringency of the laws did not deter them 
from it. Would it not be well to abate somewhat of this rigor, 
and allow all slaves, voluntarily manumitted, to remain in the 
several States with at least the privileges of the free negroes 
now resident therein, so that the olden ties, which have grown 
up between themselves and their owners, might not be abruptly 
snapped asunder ? Besides, to enforce the propriety of this 
alteration of the law, it would be well to reflect that the South 
is the native home of most of the slaves, who cherish their local 
attachments quite as much as ourselves ; and hence the law 
which now requires them, when by any means they have ob- 
tained their freedom, to remove beyond the limits of the State, 
is a very serious hardship and should cease to exist. This 
would be a long stride toward your own relief from the burden 
of which you complain. As to the slaves, who you think should 
be content with their condition, in which they have, as you say, 
^ no care for necessary food and raiment,' I would suggest that 
they have the faculty of distinguishing between slavery and 
bondage, and have sense enough to see that though these things, 



THE ARGUMENT, 



273 



which are generally of the coarsest kind, are provided by their 
masters, the means by which they are furnished are but a scanty 
portion of their own hard earnings. Were they free, they could 
work in the same way, and be entitled to all the fruits of their 
labor. Then they would have the same inducements to toil 
that we now have, and the same ambition to lift themselves 
higher and higher in the social scale. Those white men v/hom 
you believe willing to exchange situations with them, are too 
indolent to enjoy the privileges of freedom, and would be utterly 
worthless as slaves. You declaim against the course which the 
Abolitionists have pursued, and seem disposed, in consequence, 
to tighten the cords of servitude. You would be let alone, for- 
sooth, to bear this burden as long as you please, and to get rid 
of it at pleasure. So long as there was any hope that you 
would do what you ought in the matter, you were let alone, and 
if you were the only sufferers from your peculiar institution, 
you might continue undisturbed ; but the yoke lies heavy and 
galling upon the poor slaves themselves, whose voices are stifled, 
and it is high time for the friends of human rights to speak in 
their behalf, till they make themselves heard. At this momen- 
tous period, when new States and Territories are knocking for 
admission at the doors of our Union — States and Territories of 
free and virgin soil, which you are seeking to defile by the 
introduction of slavery — it is fit that they should persevere in 
their noble efforts, that they should resist your endeavors, and 
strive with all their energies to confine the obnoxious insti- 
tution within its already too-extended bounds ; for they know, 
that, if they would attain their object — the ultimate and entire 
abolition of slavery from our land — they should oppose strenu- 
ously every movement tending to its extension ; for, the broader 
the surface over which it spreads, the more formidable will be 
the difiiculty of its removal. Therefore it is that they are now 
so zealously engaged, and they address you as men whose 
'judgment has not fled to brutish beasts,' with arguments 
against the evil itself and the weight of anguish it entails. 
Thus they have ever done, and you tell me that the result has 
12* 



274 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



been to rivet the chaius of those in whose behalf they plead. 
As well might the sinner, whose guilt is pointed out to him by 
the minister of God, resolve for that very reason to plunge more 
deeply into sin." 

His voice became gradually calmer and calmer, until finally 
it sank into the low notes of a solemn half-whisper. I held my 
breatbin intense excitement, but this transport was broken by 
the harsh tones of the Virginian, who said : 

"All this is very ridiculous as well as unjust ; for, at the South 
slaves are regarded as property, and, inasmuch as our territories 
are acquired by the common blood and treasure of the whole 
country, we have as much right to locate in them with our prop- 
erty as you have with any of those things which are recognized 
as property at the Xorth. In your great love of human rights 
you might take some thought of us ; but the secret of your 
action is jealousy of our advancement by the aid of slave-labor, 
-which you would have at the North if you needed it. We un- 
derstand you well, and we are heartily tired of your insulting 
and impudent cant about the evils of the system of slavery. We 
want no more of it." 

Mr. Trueman, without noticing the insolence of Winston, con- 
tinued in the same impressive manner : 

We do take much thought of you at the South, and hence 
it is that we dislike to see you passively submitting to the con- 
tinuance of an institution so fraught with evil in itself, and very 
burdensome, as even you have admitted. We, of the Xorth, 
feel strongly bound to you by the recollection of common dan- 
gers, struggles and trials ; and, with an honorable pride, we 
wish our whole nation to stand fair, and, so far as possible, blame- 
less before the world. We are doing all we can to remove the 
evils of every kind which exist at the Xorth ; and, as we are 
not sectional in our purposes, we would stimulate you to neces- 
sary action in regard to your especial system. We know its 
evils from sore experience, for it once prevailed amongst us ; 
but, fortunately, we opened our eyes, and gave ourselves a 
blessed riddance of it. The example is well worthy of your 



FORCE OF THE ARGUMENT. 



275 



imitation, but, ' pleased as you are with the possession, says 
Blackstone, speaking of the origin and growth of property, 
* you seem afraid to look back to the means by which it was ac- 
quired, as if fearful of some defect in your title ; or, at best, 
you rest satisfied with the decision of the laws in your favor, 
without examining" the reason or authority upon which those 
laws have been built.' To the eyes of the nations, who regard 
us from far across the ocean, and who see us, as a body, better 
than we see ourselves, slavery is the great blot that obscures the 
disc of our Republic, dimming the effulgence of its Southern 
half, as a partial eclipse darkens the world's glorious luminary. 
It is, therefore, not alone upon the score of human rights in 
general, but from a personal interest in our National character, 
that the Abolitionists interfere. Various Congressional enact- 
ments have confirmed the justice of these views, which they 
are endeavoring to enforce by moral suasion (for they deprecate 
violence) upon the South. Those enactments assume jurisdic- 
tion, to some extent at least, upon the subject of slavery, having 
gone so far as to prohibit the continuance of the slave-trade, 
denouncing it as piracy, and punishing with death those who 
are in any way engaged in it. I have yet to learn that the 
South has ever protested against this law, in which the Aboli- 
tionists see a strong confirmation of their own just principles. 
Why should they not go a step further, and forbid all traffic in 
slaves, such as is pursued among your people ? Why do not the 
States themselves interpose their power to put down at once 
and forever, such nefarious business ? This would be productive 
of vastly more good than anything which Colonization societies 
can effect." 

" Suppose, sir." began Mr. Winston, " we were to annul the 
present laws regulating the manumission of slaves, and to 
abolish the institution entirely from our midst ; where would be 
the safety of our own white race ? There is great cause for 
the apprehension generally entertained, of perpetual danger and 
annoyance, if they were permitted to remain among us. They 
are there in large numbers, and, having once obtained their 



276 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



freedom, witli permission to reside where they now are, tliey 
would seek to become * a power in the State,^ which would in- 
cite them, if resisted, into fearful rebellion. These are contin- 
gencies which sagacious statesmen have foreseen, and which 
thej would be unable to avert. Consequently, they had rather 
bear those ills they have, than fly to others that they know not 
of." 

''How infelicrtous,^' Mr. Trueman suddenly retorted, ''is your 
quotation, for, truly, you ' know not' that these anticipated 
consequences would ensue ; but ' motes they are to trouble 
the mind's eye/ Your sagacious statesmen might more wisely 
employ their thoughts in contemplating the more probable re- 
salts of continuing your slaves in their present abject condition. 
Far more reason is there to apprehend rebellion and insurrection 
now, than the distant dangers you predict. Even this last ob- 
jection is vain, unsubstantial, and, at best, only speculative, 
resorted to as an unction to mollify the sores of conscience. 
Some of your eminent men have expressed a hope that the 
colored race might be removed from the South, and from 
slavery, through the instrumentality of Colonization, by which, 
it is expected, that they would eventually be transported to 
Africa, and encouraged to establish governments for them- 
selves. This proposal is liable, and with more emphasis, to the 
objection I advanced a while ago, when speaking of the laws 
which practically discourage manumission, for, if it is a hard- 
ship (as I contend it is) for them to be driven fi'om their native 
State to one strange and unfamiliar to them, it is increasing 
that severity to require them to seek a home in Africa, whose 
climate is as uncongenial to them as to us, and with whose in- 
stitutions they feel as little interest, or identity, as we do. 
Admit, for a mom.ent, the practicability of such a scheme. We 
should, soon after, be called upon to recognize them as one of 
the nations of the earth, with whom we should treat as we do 
now with the English, French, German, and other nations. I 
will suggest to your Southern sages, who delight in specula- 
tions, that, in the progress of years, they might desire, in imita- 



TIIK ARr.rMK.NT KNOKD. 



277 



tion of some other people, to accept tlie invitations we extend 
to the oppressed and unhappy of the earth. What is there, in 
that case, to hinder them from immigrating in large numbers ? 
Could you distinguish between immigrants of their class, and 
those who now settle upon our soil ? Either you could or you 
could not. If you could not so distinguish, you would in all 
likelihood have them speedily back, in greater numbers than 
they come from Green Erin, or Fader-land. Thus you would 
be reduced to almost the same condition as general emancipa- 
tion would bring about ; but, if you could, and did make the 
distinction, is it not quite likely that deadly offence would be 
given to their government, which, added to their already accu 
mulated wrongs, would light up the fires of a more frightful 
war than the intestine rebellion you have talked of ; or than 
any that has ever desolated this continent ? Bethink yourselves 
of these things amid your gloomy forebodings, and you will find 
them pregnant with fearful issues. You will discover, too, the 
folly of longer maintaining your burdensome system, and the 
wisdom of heeding whilst you may, the counsel of the philan- 
thropic, which urges you to just, generous, speedy, universal 
emancipation. But I have fatigued you, and will stop ; hoping 
soon to hear that you have magnanimously redeemed the 
promise which I had the gratification to hear at the commence- 
ment of our conversation." 

When Mr. Trueman paused, Mr. Winston sprang to his feet 
in a rage, knocking over his chair in the excitement, and de- 
claring that he had most patiently listened to flimsy Abolition 
talk, in which there was no shadow of argument, mere common 
cant ; that he would advise Mr. Trueman to be more particular 
in the dissemination of his dangerous and obnoxious opinions ; 
and, as to his own voluntary pledge, it was conditional, and 
those conditions had not been complied with, and he did not 
consider himself bound to redeem it. Mr. Trueman endeavored 
to calm and soothe the hot-blooded Southerner ; but his words had 
no efi*ect upon the illiberal man, whom he had so fairly demol- 
ished in argument. 



278 



yXLTOBlOURAPHV OF A FEMALK SLAVE. 



As they passed my hiding-place, m route to their respective 
apartments, I peeped out through a crevice in the door at them. 
It was very easy to detect the calm, self-poised man, the 
thoughtful reasoner, in the still, pale face and erect form of 
Trueman ; whilst the red, hot-flushed countenance, the quick, 
peering eye and audacious manner of the other, revealed his 
unpleasant disposition and unsystematized mind. 

When the last echo of their retreating footsteps had died 
upon the ear, I stole from my concealment, and ventured to my 
own quarters. Many new thoughts sprang into existence in my 
mind, suggested by the conversation to which I had listened. 

I venerated Mr. Trueman more than ever. No disciple ever 
regarded the face of his master so reverently as I watched 
his countenance, when I chanced to meet him in any part of 
the house. 



CHAPTEE XXX. 



THE MISDEMEANOR THE PUNISHMENT ITS CONSEQUENCE — 

FRIGHT. 

The next day Miss Jane, observing my nniisual tliouglitfiil- 
ness, said : 

" Come, now, Ann, you are not quite free. From tlie airs that 
you have put on, one would think you had been made so.'^ 

**What have I done. Miss Jane?'^ This was asked in a 
quiet tone, perhaps not so obsequiously as she thought it should 
be. Thereupon she took great offence. 

^' How dare you, Miss, speak to me in that tone ? Take 
that," and she dealt me a blow across the forehead with a long, 
limber whalebone, that laid the flesh open. I was so stunned 
by it that I reeled, and should have fallen to the floor, had I not 
supported myself by the bed-post. 
Don't you dare to scream." 
I attempted to bind up my brow with a handkerchief. This 
she regarded as affectation. 

Take care. Miss Ann/' she often prefixed the Miss when 
she was mad, by way of taunting me ; give yourself none 
of those important airs. I'll take you down a little.'^ 

When Mr. Summerville entered, she began to cry, saying : 
Husband, this nigger-wench has given me a great deal of 
impertinence. Father never allowed it ; now I want to know 
if you will not protect me from such insults." 

Certainly, my love, I'll not allow any one, white or black, 
to insult you. Ann, how dare you give your mistress impu- 
dence 

I did not mean it. Master William." I had thus addressed 
him ever since his marriage. 

I attempted to relate the conversation that had occurred, 

L2T9] 



280 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALR SLAVE. 



wherein Miss Jane thought I had been impudent, when she 
suddenly sprang up, exclaiming : 

Do you allow a negro to give testimony against your own 
^ wife?'* 

Certainly not.'' 

" Now, Mr. Summerville," she was getting angry with him, 

I require you to whip that girl severely ; if you don't do 
it — why — " and she ground her teeth fiercely. 

" I will have her whipped, my dear, but I cannot whip her.'* 

'•'Why can't you?" and the lady's eye flashed. 

" Because I should be injured by it. Gentlemen do not cor- 
rect negroes ; they hire others to do that sort of business.^' 

'*Ah, well, then, hire some one who will do it well.'' 
Come with me, Ann," he said to me, as I stood speechless 
with fear and mortification. 

Seeing him again motion me to follow, I, forgetful of the in- 
justice that had been done me, and the honest resentment I 
should feel — forgetful of everything but the humiliation to which 
they were going to subject me — fell on my knees before Miss 
Jane, and besought her to excuse, to forgive me, and I would 
never offend her again. 

"Don't dare to ask mercy of me. You know that I am too 
much like father to spare a nigger." 

Ah, well I knew it! and vainly I sued to her. I might have 
known that she rejoiced too much in the sport ; and, had she 
been in the country, would have asked no higher pleasure than 
to attend to* it personally. A negro's scream of agony was 
music to her ears. 

I governed myself as well as I could while I followed Mr. 
Summerville through the halls aud winding galleries. Down 
flights of steps, through passages and lobbys we went, until at 
last we landed in the cellar. There Mr. Summerville surren- 
dered me to the care of a Mr. Monkton, the bar-keeper of the 
establishment duly appointed and fitted for the office of slave- 
whipping. 

''Here," said Mr. Summerville, ''give this girl a good, gen- 



THE SUBTERRANEAN ROOM. 



281 



tee! whipping"; but no cruelty, Monkton, and here is your fee 
so saying he handed him a half-dollar, then left the dismal 
cellar. 

1 have since read long and learned accounts of the gloomy, 
subterranean cells, in which the cruel ministers of the Spanish 
Inquisition performed their horrible deeds ; and I think this 
cellar very nearly resembled them. There it was, with its low, 
damp, vault-like roof ; its unwholesome air, earthen floor, cov- 
ered with broken wine bottles, and oyster cans, the debris of 
many a wild night's revel ! There stood the monster Monkton, 
with his fierce, lynx eye, his profuse black beard, and frousy 
brows ; a great, stalwart man, of a hard face and manner, form- 
ing no bad picture of those wolfish inquisitors of cruel. Catholic 
Spain ! 

Over this untempting scene a dim, waning lamp, threw its 
blue glare, only rendering the place more hideous. 

Now, girl, I am to lick you well. You see the half-dollar. 
Well, I'm to git the worth of it out of your hide. Now, what 
would you think if I didn't give you a single lick ?" 

I looked him full in the face, and even by that equivocal 
light I had power to discern his horrid purpose, and I quickly 
and proudly replied, 

" I should think you did your duty poorly." 
And why V 

" Because you engaged to do the joh^ and even received your 
pay in advance ; therefore, if you fail to comply with your bar- 
gain, you are not trustworthy." 

^ WaK you're smart enough for a lawyer." 
Well, attend to your business." 

This is my business," and he held up a stout wagon-whip ; 
" come, strip oflP." 

^'That is not a part of the contract." 

"Yes; but it's the way I always whips 'em." 

" You were not told to use me so, and I am not going to re- 
move one article of my clothing." 

"Yes, but you sJwIl and he approached me, his wild eye 



282 



\UT0B10GRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



glaring' witli a lascivious liglit, and the deep passion-spot blazing 
on his cheek. 

" Girl, youVe got to yield to me. I'll have you now, if its 
only to show you that I can." 

I drew hack a few steps, and, seizing a broken bottle, waited, 
with a deadly purpose, to see what he would do. He came so 
near that I almost fancied his fetid breath played with its dam- 
nable heat upon my very cheek. 

YouVe got to be mine. I'll give you a fine calico dress, 
and a pretty pair of ear-bobs 

This was too much for further endurance. What ! must I 
give up the angel-sealed honor of my life in traffic for trinkets ? 
Where is the woman that would not have hotly resented such 
an insult ? 

I turned upon him like a hungry lioness, and just as his wan- 
ton hand was about to be laid upon me, I dexterously aimed, 
and hurled the bottle directly against his left temple. With a 
low cry of pain he fell to the floor, and the blood oozed freely 
from the wound. 

As my first impression was that I had slain him, so was it my 
first desperate impulse to kill myself ; yet with a second thought 
came my better intention, and, unlocking the door, I turned 
and left the gloomy cell. I mounted the dust-covered steps, 
and rapidly threaded silent, spider festooned halls, until I re- 
gained the upper courts. How beautiful seemed the full gush 
of day -light to me ! But the heavy weight of a supposed crime 
bowed me to the earth. 

My first idea was to proceed directly to Mr. Summerville's 
apartment and make a truthful statement of the afiair. What 
he would do or have done to me was a matter upon which I had 
expended no thought. My apprehension was altogether for the 
safety of my soul. Homicide was so fearful a thing, that even 
when committed in actual self-defence, I feared for the justice 
of it. The Divine interrogatory made to Cain rang with painful 
accuracy in my mental ear! Am I my brother's keeper 
I repeated it again and again, and I lived years in the brief 



MR. TRUEMAN'S words. 



283 



space of a moment. Away over the trackless void of the future 
fled imagination, painting all things and scenes with a sombre 
color. 

The first recognizable person whom I met was Mr. Winston. 
I knew there was but little to hope for from him, for ever since 
the argument between himself and Mr. Trueman, he had ap- 
peared unusually haughty ; and the waiters said that he had 
become excessively overbearing, that he was constantly knock- 
ing them around with his gold-headed cane, and swearing that 
Kentucky slaves were almost as bad as Northern free negroes. 

Henry (who had become a most dear friend of mine) told me 
that Mr. Winston had on one or two occasions, without the 
slightest provocation, struck him severely over the head ; but 
these things were pretty generally done in the presence of Mr. 
Trueman, and for no higher object, I honestly believe, than to 
annoy that pure-souled philanthropist. So I was assured that 
he was not one to entrust with my secret, especially as a great 
intimacy had sprung up between him and Miss Jane. I, there- 
fore, hastily passed him, and a, few steps on met Mr. Trueman. 
How serene appeared his chaste, marble face ! Who that looked 
upon him, with his quiet, reflective eye, but knew that an angel 
sat enthroned within his bosom ? Do not such faces help to 
prove the perfectibility of the race ? If, as the transcendental- 
ists believe, these noble characters are only types of what the 
whole man will be, may we not expect much from the advent 
of that dubious personage ? 

" Mr. Trueman," I said, and my voice was clear and unfalter- 
ing, for something in his face and manner exorcised all fear, 
I have done a fearful deed." 

What, child ?" he asked, and his eye was full of solicitude. 

I then gave him a hurried account of what had occurred in 
the cellar. After a slight pause, he said : 

" The best thing for you to do will be to make instant confes- 
sion to Mr. Summerville. Alas ! I fear it will go hard with you, 
for you are a slaved 

I thanked him for the interest he had manifested in me, and 



284 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



passed on to Miss Jane's room. I paused one moment at the 
door, before turning the knob. What a variety of feelings were 
at work in my breast ! Had I a fellow-creature's blood upon 
my hands ? I trembled in every limb, but at length controlled 
myself sufficiently to enter. 

There sat Miss Jane, engaged at her crochet-work, and 
Master William playing with the balls of cotton and silk in her 
little basket. 

Well, Ann, I trust you've got your just deserts, a good 
whipping," said Miss Jane, as she fixed her eyes upon me. 

Very calmly I related all that had occurred. Mr. Summer- 
ville sprang to his feet and rushed from the room, whilst Miss 
Jane set up a series of screams loud enough to reach the most 
distant part of the house. All my services were required to 
keep her from swooning, or affecting to swoon. 

The ladies from the adjoining room srushed in to her assist- 
ance, and were soon busy chafing her hands, rubbing her feet, 
and bathing her temples. 

Isn't this terrible !" ejaculated one. 
"What is the matter?" cried another. 
Poor creature, she is hysterical," was the explanation of a 
third. 

I endeavored to explain the cause of Miss Jane's excitement. 

" You did right," said one lady, whose truly womanly spirit 
burst through all conventionality and restraint. 

" What,'^ said one, a genuine Southern conservative, " do you 
say it was right for a slave to oppose and resist the punishment 
which her master had directed ?" 

Certainly not ; but it was right for a female, no matter 
whether white or black, to resist, even to the shedding of blood, 
the lascivious advances of a bold libertine." 

" Do you believe the girl's story ?" 
Yes ; why not ?" 

" I don't ; it bears the impress of falsehood on its very 
face." 

No," added another Kentucky true-blue, "Mr Monkton 



THE REBUFF. 



285 



was going to whip her, and she resisted him. That's the cor- 
rect version of the story, I'll bet my life on it.'' 

To all of this aspersion upon myself, I was bound to be a 
silent auditor, yet ever obeying their slightest order to hand 
them water, cologne, &c. Is not this slavery indeed ? 

When Mr. Summerville left the room, he hastily repaired to 
the bar, where he made the story known, and getting assistance, 
forthwith went to the cellar, Mr. Winston forming one of the 
party of investigation. His Southern prejudices were in- 
stantly aroused, and he was ready to do or die" for the propo- 
gation of the " peculiar institution." 

The result of their trip was to find Monkton very feeble from 
the loss of blood, and suffering from the cut made by the broken 
bottle, but with enough life left in him for the fabrication of a 
falsehood, which was of course believed, as he had a loliite face. 
He stated that he had proceeded to the administration of the 
whipping, directed by my master ; that I resisted him ; and find- 
ing it necessary to biud me, he was attempting to do so, when I 
swore that I would kill him, and that suiting the £tction to the 
word, I hurled the broken bottle at his temples. 

When Mr. Summerville repeated this to Miss Jane, in my 
presence, stating that it was the testimony that Monkton was 
prepared to give in open court, for I was to be arrested, I 
could not refrain from uttering a cry of surprise, and saying : 

" Mr. Monkton has misrepresented the case, as ^ I can show.' 
Yes, but you will not be allowed to give evidence," said 
Master William. 

Will Mr. Monkton's testimony be taken V \ inquired. 

" Certainly, but a negro cannot bear witness against a white 
person." 

I said nothing, but many thoughts were troubling me. 
You see, Ann, what your bad conduct has brought you to,^^ 
said Miss Jane. 

Again I attempted to tell the facts of the case, and defend 
myself, but she interrupted me, saying : 

Do you suppose I believe a v/ord of that ? I can assure 



286 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OK A FEMALE SLAVE. 



you I do not, and, moreover, I'm not going to spend my money 
to have a lawyer employed to keep yon from the punishment 
you so richly deserve. So you must content yourself to take 
the public hanging or whipping in the jail yard, which is the 
penalty that will he affixed to your crime." Turning to Mr. 
Summerville, she added, I think it will do Ann good, for it 
will take down her pride, and make her a valuable nigger. She 
has been too proud of her character ; for my part, I had rather 
she had had less virtue. I've always thought she was virtuous 
because she did not want us to increase in property, and was too 
proud to have her children live in bondage." 

I dared not make any remark ; but there I stood in dread of 
the approaching arrest, which came full soon. 

As I was sewing for Miss Jane, Mr. Summerville opened the 
door, and said to a rough man, pointing to me — 

" There's the girl.'' 

*^ Come along with me to jail, gal." 

How fearfully sounded the command. The jail-house was a 
place of terror, and though I had in my brief life supped full 
of horrors," this was a new species of torture that I had hoped 
to leave untasted. 

Taking with me nothing but my bonnet, I followed Con- 
stable Calcraft down stairs into the street. Upon one of the 
landings I met Henry, and I knew from his kindly mournful 
glance, that he gave me all his compassion. 

" Good-bye, Ann," he said, extending his hand to me, 
good-bye, and keep of good cheer ; the Lord will be with 
3'ou." I looked at him, and saw tliat his lip w^as quivering ; 
and his dark eye glittered with a furtive tear. I dared not trust 
my voice, so, with a grateful pressure of the hand, I passed him 
by, keeping up my composure right stoutly. At the foot of the 
stair I met Louise, who was weeping. 

I believe you, Ann, we all believe you, and the Lord will 
make it appear on the day of your trial that you are right, only 
keep up your spirits, and read this," and she slipped a little 
pocket-Testament into my hand, which was a welcome present. 



MEETING WITH MR. TRUEMAN. 



28t 



Now, I thought, the last trial is over. All the tender ones 
who love me have spoken their comforting words, and I may 
resume my pride and hauteur ; but no — standing within the 
vestibule was the man whom I reverenced above all others, Mr. 
Trueman. One effort more, and then I might be calm ; but be- 
fore the sunshine of his kindliness the snow and ice of my pride 
melted and passed away in showers of tears. The first glance 
of his pitying countenance made me weep. I was weary and 
heavy-laden, and, even as to a mortal brother, I longed to pour 
into his ear the pent-up agony of my soul. 

Poor girl," he said kindly,* as he offered me his white and 
finely-formed hand, " I believe you innocent ; there is that in 
your clear, womanly look, your unaffected utterance, that 
proves to me you are worthy to be heard. Trust in God." 

Oh, can I ever forget the diamond-like glister of his blue 
eyes ! and that tear was evoked from its fountain for my sor- 
row ; even then I felt a thrill of joy. We love to have the 
sympathy and confidence of the truly great. I made no reply, 
in words, to Mr. Trueman, but he understood me. 

Conducted by the constable, I passed through a number of 
streets, all crowded with the busy and active, perhaps the 
hajppy. Ah, what a fable that word seemed to express ! I 
used to doubt every smiling face I saw, and think it a radiant 
lie I but, since then, though in a subdued sense, I have learned 
that mortals may be happy. 

We stopped, after a long walk, in front of a large building of 
Ionic architecture, and of dark brown stone, ornamented by beau- 
tiful flutings, with a tasteful slope of rich sward in front, adorned 
with a variety of flowers and shrubbery. Through this we passed 
and reached the first court, which was surrounded by a high stone- 
wall. Passing through a low door-way, we stood on the first 
pave ; here I was surrendered to the keeping of the jailer, a 
man apparently devoid of generosity and humanity. After 
hearing from Constable Calcraft an account of the crime for 
which I was committed, he observed — 

A sassy, impudent, cnxixlj gal, I guess ; we have plenty 



288 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



sich ; this will larn her a lessin. Come with me," he said, as 
he turned his besotted face toward me. 

Through dirty, dark, filthy passages I went, until we reach- 
ed a gloomy, loathsome apartment, in which he rudely thrust 
me, saying — 

" Thar's your quarters." 

Such a place as it was ! A small room of six by eight, with 
a dirty, discolored floor, over which rats and mice scampered 
ad libitmn. One miserable little iron grate let in a stray ray 
of daylight, only revealing those loathsome things which the 
friendly darkness would have concealed. Cowering in the 
corner of this wretched pen was a poor, neglected white 
woman, whose face seemed unacquainted with soap and water, 
and her hair tagged, ragged, and unused to comb or brush. She 
clasped to her breast a weasly suckling, that every now and 
then gave a sickly cry, indicative of the cholic or a heated 
atmosphere. 

" Poor comfort !*' said the woman, as I entered, " poor com- 
fort here, whare the starved wretches are cryin' for ar. My 
baby has bin a sinkin' ever sense I come here. I'd not keer 
much if we could both die." 

" For what are you to be tried V 

" For takin' a loaf of bread to keep myself and child from 
starvin'." 

She then asked me for what I stood accused. I told her my 
story, and we grew quite talkative and sociable, thereby real- 
izing the old axiom, Misery loves company." 

^ij ^ i(i if. if. if. 

For several days I lingered on thus, diversifying the time 
only by reading my Testament, the gift of Louise, and occa- 
sionally having a long talk with my companion, whom I learned 
to address by the name of Fanny. She was a woman of re- 
markably sensitive feelings, quick and warm in all her im- 
pulses; just such a creature as an education and kindly train- 
ing would have made lovely and lovable ; but she had been 
utterly neglected — had grown up a complete human weed. 



THE VISIT. 



289 



Our meals were served round to us upon a large wooden 
drawer, as filthy as dirt and grease could make it. The cuisine 
dashed our rations, a slice of fat bacon and*' pone" of corn 
bread to us, with as little ceremony as though we had been 
dogs ; and we were allowed one blanket to sleep on. 

One day, when I felt more than usually gloomy, I was 
agreeably disappointed, as the cumbersome door opened to ad- 
mit my kind friend Louise. The jailer remarked : 

You may stay about a quarter of an hour, but no longer.'* 

*' Thank you, sir,'^ she replied. 
This is very kind of you, Louise/' for I was touched by 
the visit. 

" I wanted to see you, Ann ; and look what I brought you 
She held a beautiful bouquet to me. 

** Thank you, thank you a thousand times, this is too kind,'' 
I said, as I watered the lovely flowers with my tears. 

Oh, they were sent to you," she answered, with a smile. 

" And who sent them 

" Why, Henry, of course and again she smiled. 

I know not why, but I felt the blood rushing warmly to my 
face, as I bent my head very low, to conceal a confusion which 
I did not understand. 

" But here is something that I did bring you," and, opening 
a basket, she drew out a nice, tempting pie, some very delicious 
fruit cake, and white bread. 

I suppose your fare is miserable 

" Oh, worse than miserable." 

Fanny drew near me, and without the least timidity, stretch- 
ed forth her hand. 

Oh, please give me some, only a little ; I'm nearly starved 

I freely gave her the larger portion, for she could enjoy it. I 
had the flowers, the blessed flowers, that Henry had sent, and 
they were food and drink for me ! 

Louise informed me that, since my arrest, she had cleared 
up and arranged Miss Jane's room ; and she thought it was 
Mr. Summerville's intention to sell me after the trial. 
13 



290 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



*' Have you heard who will buy me I asked. 
Oh, no, I don't suppose an offer has yet been made ; nor do 
I know that it is their positive intention to sell you ; but that is 
what I judged from their conversation." 

" If they get me a good master I am very willing to be sold; 
for I could not find a worse home than I have now." 

I expect if he sells you, it will be to a trader ; but, keep 
up your heart and spirits. Remember, * sufficient for the day is 
the evil thereof.' But I hear the sound of footsteps ; the jailer 
is coming ; my quarter of an hour is out." 

" How came he to admit you ?" 

" Oh, I know Mr. Tray ton very vrell. I've washed for his 
wife, and she owes me a little bill of a couple of dollars ; so 
when I came here, I said by way of a bait, 'Now, Mrs. Trayton, 
I didn't come to dun you, I'll make you a present of that little 
bill ;" then she and he were both in a mighty good humor with 
me. I then said, "I've got a friend here, and I'd take it as a 
favor if you'd let me see her for a little while.' 

** Mr. Trayton said ; 

" ' Oh, that can't be — it's against the rules.' 

" So his wife set to work, and persuaded him that he owed 
me a favor, and he consented to let me see you for a cparter of 
an hour only. Before he comes, tell me what message I am to 
give Henry for you. I know he will be anxious to hear.'' 

Again I felt the blood tingling in my veins, and overspread- 
ing my face. I began to play with my flowers, and muttered 
out something about gratitude for the welcome present, a mes- 
sage which, incoherent as it was, her woman's wit knew to be 
sincere and gracious. After a few moments the jailer came, 
saying : 

" Louise, your time is up." 

" I am ready to go," and she took up her basket. After bid- 
ding me a kind adieu she departed, carrying with her much of 
the sunshine which her presence had brought, but not all of it, 
for she left with me a ray or so to illumine the darkened cell 
of recollection. There on my lap lay the blooming flowers, 



THE FLOWERS. 



291 



his gift ! Flowers are always a joy to us — tliey gladden and 
beautify our outer and every-day life ; they preach us a ser- 
mon of beauty and love ; but to the weary, lonely captive, in 
his dismal cell, they are particularly beautiful ! They speak 
to him in a voice which nothing else can, of the glory of the 
sun-lit world, from which he is exiled. Thanks to God for 
flowers ! Eude, and coarse, and vile must be the nature that 
can trample them with unhallowed feet ! 

There I sat toying with them, inhaling their mystic odor, 
and luxuriating upon the delicacy of their ephemeral beauty. 
All flowers were dear to me ; but these were particularly pre- 
cious, and wherefore ? Is there a single female heart that will 
not divine ''the wherefore You, who are clad in satin, and 
decked with jewels, albeit your face is as white as snow, can- 
not boast of emotions different from ours ? Feeling, emotion, 
is the same in the African and the white woman ? We are 
made of the same clay, and informed by the same spirit. 

The better portion of the night I sat there, sadly wakeful, 
still clutching those flowers to my breast, and covering them 
with kisses. 

The heavy breathing of my companion sounded drowsily in 
my ear, yet never wooed me to a like repose. Thus wore on 
the best part of the night, until the small, shadowy hours, when 
I sank to a sweet dream. I was wandering in a rich garden of 
tropical flowers, with Henry by my side ! Through enchanted 
gates we passed, hand in hand, singing as we went. Long and 
dreamily we loitered by low-gurgling summer fountains, listen- 
ing to the lulling wail of falling water. Then we journeyed on 
toward a fairy flower-palace, that loomed up greenly in the dis- 
tance, which ever, as we approached it, seemed to recede fur- 
ther. 

I awoke before we reached the floral palace, and I am wo- 
manly enough to confess, that I felt annoyed that the dream 
had been broken by the cry of Fanny's babe. I puzzled my- 
self trying to read its import. Are there many women who 
would have difl*ered from me ? Yet I was distressed to find 



292 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Fanny's little boj-babe very sick, so mucli so as to require 
medical attention ; but, alas! she was too poor to offer remunera- 
tion to a doctor, therefore none was sent for ; and, as the child 
was attacked with croup, it actually died for the want of medi- 
cal attention. And this occurred in a community boasting of 
its enlightenment and Christianity, and in a city where fifty-two 
churches reared their gilded domes and ornamented spires, in a 
God-fearing and God-serving community, proud of its benevo- 
lent societies, its hospitals, &c. In what, I ask, are these Chris- 
tians better than the Pharisees of old, who prayed long, well, 
and much, in their splendid temples 1 



CHAPTER XXXI. 



THE DAY OF TRIAL — ANXIETY — THE VOLUNTEER COUNSEx. 

VERDICT OF THE JURY. 

The day of my trial dawned as fair and briglit as any that 
ever broke over the sinful world. It rose upon my slumber 
mildly, and without breaking its serenity. I slept better on 
the night preceding the trial, than I had done since my incar- 
ceration. 

I knew that I was friendless and alone, and on the eve of a trial 
wherein I stood accused of a fearful crime ; that I was defence- 
less ; yet I rested my cause with Him, who has bidden the 
weary and heavy-laden to come unto Him, and He will give 
them rest. Strong in this consciousness, I sank to the sweetest 
slumber and the rosiest dreams. Through my mind gracefully 
flitted the phantom of Henry. 

When Fanny woke me to receive my unrelished breakfast, 
she said : 

You've forgot that this is the day of trial ; you sleep as un- 
consarned as though the trial was three weeks off. For my 
part, now that the baby is dead, I don't kere much what be- 
comes of me." 

My cause," I replied, is with God. To His keeping I 
have confided myself ; therefore, I can sleep soundly." 
•* Have you got any lawyer ?" 

*'No; I am a slave, and my master will not employ one." 

After a few hours we heard the sound of a bell, that an- 
nounced the opening of court. The jailer conducted me out of 
the jail yard into the Court House. It was the first time I had 
ever seen the interior of a court-room, when the court was in 
full session, and I was not very much edified by the sight. 

r;293l 



294 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



The outside of the biiildiDg was very tasteful and elegant, 
with most ornate decorations ; but the interior was shocking. 
In the first place it was unfinished, and the bald, nnplastered 
walls struck me as being exceedingly comfortless. Then the 
long, redundant cobwebs were gathered in festoons from rafter 
to rafter, whilst the floor was fairly tesselated with spots of to- 
bacco-juice, which had been most dexterously ejected from cer- 
tain l£gal orifices, commonly known as the Tncntlis of latcyersy 
who, for want of opportunity to speak, resorted to chewing. 

The judge, a lazy-looking old gentleman, sat in a time-woni 
arm-chair, ready to give his decision in the case of the Com- 
monwealth versus Ann, slave of William Summerville ; and 
seeming to me very much as though his opinion was made up 
without a hearing. 

And there, ranged round his Honor, were the practitioners 
and members of the bar, all of them in seedy clothes, unshorn 
and unshaven. Here and there you would find a veteran of the 
bar, who claimed it as his especial privilege to outrage the 
King's or the President's English and common decency ; and, 
as a matter of course, all the younger ones were aiming to imi- 
tate him ; but, as it was impossible to do that in ability, they 
succeeded, to admiration, in copying his ill-manners. 

Two of them I particularly noticed., as I sat in the prisoners 
dock, awaiting the " coming up of my case." One of them the 
Court frequently addressed as Mr. Spear, and a very pointless 
spear he seemed ; — a little, short, chunky man, with yellow, 
stiff, bristling hair, that stood out very straight, as if to declare 
its independence of the brain, and away it went on its owner's 
well-defined principle of *' going it on your own hook." He had 
a little snub of a nose that possessed the good taste to turn 
away in disgust from its neighbor, a tobacco-stained mouth of 
no particular dimensions, and, I should judge from the sneer 
of the said nose, of no very pleasant odor ; little, hard, flinty, 
grizzly-gray eyes, that seemed to wink as though they were 



THE COURT-ROOM. 



295 



plete the ludicrous picture, he was a self-sufficient body, quite 
elate at the idea of speaking*' in public on the stage." His 
speech was made up of the frequent repetition of " my client 
claims" so and so, and " may it please your Honor," and I'll 
call the attention of the Court to the fact,'' and such like phrases, 
but whether his client was guilty of the charge set forth in the 
indictment, he neither proved nor disproved. 

The other individual whom I remarked, was a great, fat, 
flabby man, whose flesh (like that of a rhinoceros) hung loosely 
on the bones. He seemed to consider personal ease, rather than 
taste, in the arrangement of his toilet; for he appeared 
in the presence of the court in a pair of half-worn slippers, 
stockings down-gyved," a shirt-bosom much spotted with 
tobacco-juice, and a neck-cloth loosely adjusted about his red, 
beefisli throat. His little watery blue eye remmded me 
forcibly of skimmed milk ; whilst his big nose, as red as a peony, 
told the story that he was no advocate of the Maine liquor law, 
and that he had voted Jbr Ucense.^^ 

He was said, by some of the bystanders, to have made an ex- 
cellent speech adverse to his client, and in favor of the side 
against which he was employed. 

''Hurrah for litigation," said an animadverter who stood in 
proximity to me. After awhile, and in due course of docket, 
my case came up. 

Has she no counsel asked the judge. 

After a moment's pause, some one answered, No ; she has 
none.'' 

I felt a chill gathering at my heart, for there was a slight 
movement in the crowd ; and, upon looking round, I discovered 
Mr. Trueman making his way through the audience. After a 
few words with several members of the bar and the judge, he 
was duly sworn in, and introduced to the Court as Mr. Trueman, 
a lawyer from Massachusetts, who desired to be admitted as a 
practitioner at this bar. Thus duly qualified, he volunteered 
his services in my defence. The look which I gave him came 
directly from my overflowing heart, and I am sure spoke my 



296 



ACTOBIOGRAPHV OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



thanks more effectual than words could have done. But he 
gave me no other recognition than a faint smile. 

As the case began, my attention was arrested. The jury was 
selected without difficulty; for, as none of the panel had heard 
of the case, the counsel waived the privilege of challenging. 
After the reading of the indictment, setting forth formally " an 
assault upon Mr. Monkton, with intent to kill, by one Ann, slave 
of William Summerville," the Commonwealth's attorney intro- 
duced Mr. Monkton himself as the only witness in the case 

In a very minute and evidently pre-arranged story, he pro- 
ceeded to detail the circumstances of a violent and deadly as- 
sault, which seemed to impress the jury greatly to my preju- 
dice. When he had concluded, the prosecutor remarked that 
he had no further evidence, and proposed to submit the case, 
without argument, to the jury, as Mr. Trueman had no witnesses 
in my favor. To this proposal, however, Mr. Trueman would 
not accede ; and so the prosecutor briefly argued upon the testi- 
mony and the law applicable to it. Then Mr. Trueman rose, 
and a thrill seemed to run through the audience as his tall, com- 
manding form stood proud and erect, his mild saint-like eyes 
glowing with a fire that I had never seen before. He began , 
by endeavoring to disabuse the minds of the jury of the very 
natural ill-feeling they might entertain against a slave, supposed ' 
to have made an attack upon the life of a white man : reviewed 
at length the distinctions which are believed, at the South, to 
exist between the two races; and dwelt especially upon those 
oppressive enactments which virtually place the life of a slave 
at the mercy of even the basest of the white complexion. Pass- * 
ing from these general observations, he examined, with scrutiny 
the prepared story of Mr. Monkton, showing it to be a vile fab- ^ 
rication of defeated malice, flatly contradictory in essen- 
tial particulars, and utterly unworthy of reliance under the wise J 
maxim of the law, that ''being false in one thing, it was false in 
all.'' In conclusion, he made a stirring appeal to the jury, ex- 
horting them to rescue this feeble woman from the foul machi- ^fl 
nations which had been invented for her ruin; to rebuke, by 



THE APPEAL. 



291 



their righteous verdict, this swift and perjured witness ; and to 
vindicate before the world the honor of their dear old Common- 
wealth, which was no less threatened by this ignominious pro- 
ceeding than the safety of his poor and innocent client. 

The officers of the Court could scarcely repress the applause 
which succeeded this appeal. 

" Finally, gentlemen," resumed Mr. Trueman, " permit me to 
take back to my Northern home the warm, personal testimony 
to your love of justice, which, unbiased by considerations of 
color, is dealt out to high and low, rich and poor, white and 
black, with equal and impartial hands. Disarm, by your ver- 
dict in this instance, the reproach by which Kentucky may 
hereafter be assailed when her enemies shall taunt her with in- 
justice and cruelty. It has long been said, at the North, that 
*the South cannot show justice to a slave.' Now, gentlemen, 
'tis for you, in the character of sworn jurors, to disprove, by 
your verdict, this oft -repeated, and, alas ! in too many instances, 
well-authenticated charge. And I conjure you as men, as 
Christians, as jurors, to deal justly, kindly, humanely with this 
poor uncared-for slave-woman. As you are men and fathers, 
slave-holders even, show her justice, and, if need be, mercy, as 
in like circumstances you would have these dispensed to your 
own daughters or slaves. She is a woman, it may be an uncul- 
tured one ; this place, this Court, is strange to her. There she 
sits alone, and seemingly friendless, in the dock. Where was 
her master ] Had he prepared or engaged an advocate ? No, 
sir; he left her helpless and undefended; but that God, alike 
the God of the Jew and the Gentile, has, in the hour of her 
need, raised up for her a friend and advocate. And be ye. Gen- 
tlemen of the Jury, also the friend of the neglected female ! 
By all the artlessness of her sex, she appeals to you to rescue 
her name from this undeserved aspersion, and her body from the 
tortures of the lash or the halter. Mark, with your strongest 
reprobation, that lying accuser of the powerless, who, thwarted 
in the attempt to violate one article in the Decalogue, has here, 
and in your presence, accomplished the outrage of another, in- 
13* 



298 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Yoking upon liis soul, witli unliolj lips, the maledictions witli 
which God will sooner or later overwhelm the perjurer. Look 
at him now as he cowers beneath ray Vv^ords. His blanched 
cheek and shrivelling eye denote the detected villain. He 
dares not, like an honest, truth-telling man, face the charges 
arrayed against him. No, conscious guilt and wicked passion 
are bowing him now to the earth. Dare he look me full in the 
eye? No; for he fears lest I, with a lawyer's skill, should 
draw out and expose the malicious fiend that has urged him on 
to the persecution of the innocent and defenceless. Send him 
from your midst with the brand of severest condemnation, as an 
example of the fate which awaits a false witness in the Courts 
of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Restore to this prisoner 
the peace of mind which has been destroyed by this prosecution. 
Thus you will provide for yourselves a source of consolation 
through all the future, and I shall thank heaven with my latest 
breath for the chance that threw me, a stranger, in your city 
to-day, and led me to this temple of justice to urge your minds 
to the right conclusion.'^ 

He sat down amid such thunders of applause as incurred the 
censure of the judge. When order was restored, the Common- 
wealth's attorney rose to close the case. He said he could see 
no reason for doubting the veracity of his witness whom the op- 
position had so strenuously endeavored to impeach. For his 
own part, he had long known Mr. Monkton, and had always re- 
garded him as a man of truth. The present was the first at- 
tempt at his impeachment that he had ever heard of; and he 
felt perfectly satisfied that Mr. Monkton would survive it. Had 
he been the character which his adversary had described, it 
might have been possible to find some witness who could in- 
validate his testimony. No one, however, has appeared ; and 
I take it that no one exists. The gentleman would do well 
to observe a little more caution before he attacks so recklessly 
the reputation of a man." 

Mr. Trueman rising, requested the prosecutor to indulge him 
for one moment, 



THE SUMMIXG-UP. 



299 



" Certainly/' was the reply. 

*' I desire the jury and the Court to remember,'' said Mr. 
Truman, ** that I made no attack upon the reputatio7i of the 
witness in this case. Doubtless that is all which it is claimed 
to be. I freely concede it ; but the earnest prosecutor must 
permit me to distinguish between re])utation and character. I 
did assail the character of the man, but not h \ pothetically or 
by shrewd conjectures ; * out of his own mouth I condemned 
him.' This is not the first instance of crime committed by a 
man, who, up to the period of transgression, stood fair before 
the world. The gentleman's own library will supply abundant 
proofs of the success of strong temptation in its encounters with 
even established virtue; and I care not if this willing witness 
could bolster up his reputation with the voluntary affidavits of 
hosts of friends ; his own testimony, to-day, would have still 
produced and riveted the conviction of his really base charac- 
ter. I thank the gentleman for his indulgence." 

The prosecutor continuing, endeavored to show that the testi- 
mony was, upon its face, entirely credible, and ought to have 
its weight with the jury. He labored hard to reconcile its 
many and material contradictions, reiterated his own opinion of 
the witness as a man of truth ; and, with an inflammatory 
warning against the Abolition counsel^ who, he said, was perhaps 
now " meditating in our midst some sinister design against the 
peculiar institution of the South," he ended his fiery harangue. 

When he had taken his seat, Mr. Trueman addressed the 
Court as follows : 

Before the jury retire, may it please your Honor, as the case 
is of a serious nature, and as we have no witness for the de- 
fence, I would ask permission merely to repeat the version of 
the circumstances of this case detailed to m^e by the prisoner at 
the bar. Such a statement, I am aware, is not legal evidence; 
but if, in your clemency, you would permit it to go to the jury 
simply for what it is worth, the course of justice I am sure 
would by no means be impeded." 

The judge readily consented to this request, and Mr, 

n ' • 



300 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Trueman rehearsed my story, as narrated in the foregoing 
pages. 

The Commonwealth's attorney then rejoined with a few re- 
marks. 

After a retirement of a few minutes, the jury returned with 
a verdict of *' guilty as charged in the indictment," ordering me 
to receive two hundred lashes on my bare back, not exceeding 
fifty at a time. I was then remanded to jail to await the exe- 
cution of my sentence. 

Very gloomy looked that little room to me when I returned 
to it, with a horrid crime of which, Heaven knows, I was guilt- 
less, affixed to my name, and the prospect of a cruel puDish- 
ment awaiting me. Who may tell the silent, unexpressed agony 
that I there endured ? Certain I am, that the nightly stars and 
the old pale moon looked not down upon a more wretched 
heart. There I sat, looking ever and again at the stolid Fanny, 
who had been sentenced to the work-house for a limited time. 
Since the death of her infant she had lost all her loquacity, 
and remained in a kind of dreamy, drowsy state, between wak- 
ing and sleeping. 

Through how many scenes of vanished days, worked the 
plough-share of memory, upturning the fresh earth, where lay 
the buried seeds of some few joys! And, sometimes, a sly, 
nestling thought of Henry hid itself away in the most covert 
folds of my heart. His melancholy bronze face had cut itself 
like a fine cameo, on my soul. The old, withered flowers, 
which he had sent, lay carefully concealed in a corner of the 
cell. Their beauty had departed like a dim dream ; but a little 
of their fragrance still remained despite decay. 

One day, after the trial, I was much honored and delighted 
by a visit from no less a personage than Mr. Trueman himself. 

I was overcome, and had not power to speak the thanks with 
which my grateful heart ran over. He kindly pitied my em- 
barrassment, and relieved me by saying, 

Oh, I know you are thankful to me. 1 only wish, ray good 
girl, that my speech had rescued you from the punishment you 
have to suffer. Believe me, I deeply pity you ; and, if money 



CONVERSATION. 



301 



could avert tlie penalty wliicli I know you have not merited, 
I would relieve you from its infliction ; but nothing more can 
be done for you. You must bear your trouble bravely.'* 

Oh, my kind, noble friend !" I passionately exclaimed, 
"words like these would arm me with strength to br*ye a pun- 
ishment ten times more severe than the one that ^ivaits me. 
Sympathy from you can repay me for any suffering. That 
a r.oble white gentleman, of distinguished talents, should stoop 
from his lofty position to espouse the cause of a poor mulatto, 
is to me as pleasing as it is strange.'* 

"Alas, my good girl, you and all of your wronged a rvJ injured 
race are objects of interest and affection to me. I would 
that I could give you something more available than 33-mpathy : 
but these Southerners are a knotty people; their prej idices of 
caste and color grow out, unsightly and disgusting, like the rude 
excrescences upon a noble tree, eating it away, and sucking up 
its vital sap. These Western people are of a noble nature, 
were it not for their sectional blemishes. I never relied upon 
the many statements which I have heard at the North, taking 
them as natural exaggerations ; but my sojourn here has proved 
them to be true.^' 

I then told him of the discussion that I had overheard be- 
tween him and Mr. Winston. 

*' Did you hear that?" he asked with a smile. Winston 
has been very cool toward me ever since ; yet he is a man with 
some fine points of character, and considerable m.ental cultiva- 
tion. This one Southern feeling, or rather prejudice, how- 
ever, has well-nigh corrupted him. He is too fiery and irrita- 
ble to argue ; but all Southerners are so. They cannot allow 
themselves to discuss these matters. Witness, for instance, 
the conduct of their Congressional debaters. Do they reason ? 
Whenever a matter is reduced to argumentation, the South- 
erner flies off at a tangent, resents everything as personal, de- 
scends to abuse, and thus closes the debate." 

I ventured to ask him some questions in relation to Fred 
Douglas ; to all of which he returned satisfactory answers. 
He informed me that Douglas had once been a slave ; that he 



302 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



was now a man of social position ; of very decided talent and 
energy. know of no man," continued Mr. Trueman, wlio 
is more deserving of public trust than Douglas. He conducts 
liimself with extreme modesty and propriety, and a quiet dig- 
nity that inclines the most fastidious in his favor.'' 

He then cited the case of Miss Greenfield {the black swan), 
showing that my race was susceptible of cultivation and refine- 
ment in a high degree. 

Thus inspired, I poured forth my full soul to him. I told 
him how, in secret, I had studied ; how diligently I had search- 
ed after knowledge ; how I longed for the opportunity to im- 
prove my poor talents. I spoke freely, and with a degree of 
nervous enthusiasm that seemed to afiect him. 

"Ann," he said, and large tears stood in his eyes, "it is a 
shame for you to be kept in bondage. A proud, aspiring soul 
like yours, if once free to follow its impulses, might achieve 
much. Can you not labor to buy yourself ? At odd times do 
extra work, and, by your savings, you may, in the course of 
years, be enabled to buy yourself 

" My dear sir, I've no ' odd times' for extra work, or I would 
gladly avail myself of them. Lazy I am not ; but my mistress 
requires all my time and labor. If she were to discover that I 
was working, even at night for myself, she would punish me 
severely." 

I said this in a mournful tone ; for I felt that despair was 
my portion. He was silent for awhile ; then said, 

"Well, you must do the best you can. I would that I could 
advise you ; but now I must leave. A longer stay would 
excite suspicion. You heard what they said the other day 
about Abolitionists." 

I remembered it well, and was distressed to think that ho 
had been abused on my account. 

With many kind words he took his leave, and I felt as if 
the sunshine had suddenly been extinguished. 

During his entire visit poor Jpanny had slept. She lay like 
one in an opium trance. For hours after his departure she re- 
mained so, and much time was left me for reflection. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 



EXECUTION OF THE SENTENCE — A CHANGE HOPE. 

On the last and concluding day of tlie term of tlie court, tlie 
jailer signified to me that the constable would, on the morrow, 
administer the first fifty lashes : and, of course, I passed the 
night in great trepidation. 

But the morning came bright and clear, and the jailer, accom- 
panied by Constable Calcraft, entered. 

Come, girl, said the latter, I have to execute the sentence 
upon you." 

Without one word, I followed him into the jail yard. 

" Strip yourself to the waist," said the constable. 

I dared not hesitate, though feminine delicacy was rudely 
shocked. With a prayer to heaven for fortitude, I obeyed. 

Then, with a strong cowhide, he inflicted fifty lashes (the first 
instalment of the sentence) upon my bare back; each lacerat- 
ing it to the bone. I was afterwards compelled to put my 
clothes on over my raw, bloody back, without being allowed to 
wash away the clotted gore ; for, upon asking for water to 
cleanse myself, I was harshly refused, and quickly re-con- 
ducted to the cell, where, wounded, mortified, and anguish- 
stricken, I was left to myself. 

Oh, God of the world-forgotten Africa ! Thou dost see these 
things ; Thou dost hear the cries which daily and nightly we 
are sending up to Thee ! On that lonely, wretched night 
Thou wert with me, and my prison became as a radiant man- 
sion, for angels cheered me there ! Glory to God for the cross 
v.'hich He sent me ; for it led me on to Him. 

[3C8] 



304 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Poor Fanny, after her sentence was prononnced, was soon 
sent to the work-lioiise; so I was alone. The little Testa- 
ment which Louise had given me, was all the company 
that I desired. Its rich and varied words were as manna to my 
hungry soul ; and its blessed promises rescued me from a dread- 
ful bankruptcy of faith. 

Subsequently, and at three different times, I was led forth to 
receive the remainder of my punishment. 

After the last portion was given, I was allowed to go to the 
kitchen of the jail and wash myself and dress in some clean 
clothes, which Miss Jane had sent me. I was then conducted 
by the constable to the hotel. 

Miss Jane met me very distantly, saying — 
I trust you are somewhat humbled, Ann, and will in future 
be a better nigger." 

I was in but a poor mood to take rebukes and reproaches ; 
for my flesh was perfectly raw, the intervals between the whip- 
pings having been so short as not to allow the gashes even to 
close ; so that upon this, the final day, my back presented one 
mass of filth and clotted gore. I was then, as may be sup- 
posed, in a very irritable humor, but a slave is not allowed to 
have feeling. It is a privilege denied him, because his skin is 
^ black. 

I did not go out of Miss Jane's room, except on matters of 
business, about which she sent me. I would, then, go slipping 
around, afraid of meeting Henry. I did not wish him to see 
me in that mutilated condition. I saw Louise in Miss Jane's 
room ; but there she m^erely nodded to me. Subsequently we 
met in a retire:^ part of the hall, and there she expressed that 
generous and ndly sympathy which I knew she so warmly 
cherished for me. 

Somehow or other slie had contrived to insinuate herself 
wondrously into Miss Jane's good graces; and all her influence 
ghe endeavored to use in my favor. 

In this private interview she told me that she would induce 



THE RUSE. 



305 



Miss Jane to let me sleep in her room ; and she thought she 
knew what key to take her on. 

If/' added she, I get you to my apartment, I will care for 
you well. I will wash and dress your wounds, and render you 
every attention in my power." 

I watched, with admiration, her tactics in managing Miss 
Jane. That evening when I was seated in an obscure corner 
of the room, Miss Jane was lolling in a large arm-chair, play- 
ing with a bouquet that had been sent her by a gentleman. 
This bouquet had been delivered to her, as I afterwards learned, 
by Louise. Miss Jane had grown to be fashionable indeed ; 
and had two favorite beaux, with whom she interchanged notes, 
and Louise had been selected as a messenger. 

On this occasion, the wily mulatto came up to her, rather 
familiarly, I thought, and said — 

Ah, you are amusing yourself with the Captain's flowers ! 
I must tell him of it. Dear sakes ! but it will please him;" 
she then whispered something to her, at which both of them 
laughed heartily. 

After this Miss Jane was in a very decided good humor, and 
Louise fussed about the apartment pretty much as she pleased. 
At length, throwing open the window, she cried out — 

How close the air is here ! Why, Mrs. St. Lucian, the 
fashionable, dashing lady v/ho occupied this room just before 
you, Mrs. Somerville, wouldn't allow three persons to be in it 
at a time; and her servant-girl always slept in my room. By 
the way, that just reminds me how impolite I've been to you ; 
do excuse me, and I will be glad to relieve you by letting Ann 
go to my room of nights.'' 

Oh, it w"Ill trouble you, Louise." 

Don't talk or think of troubling me ; but come along girl," 
she said, turning to me. 

Go with Louise, Ann," added Miss Jane, as she perceived 
me hesitate, *'but come early in the morning to get me ready 
for breakfast." 

Happy even for so small a favor as this, I followed Louise 



306 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



to her room. There I found everjtliing very comfortable and 
neat. A nice, downy bed, with its snowy covering ; a bright- 
colored carpet, a little bureau, washstand, clock, rocking-chair, 
and one or two pictures, with a few crocks of flowers, com- 
pleted the tasteful furniture of this apartment. 

All this, I inly said, is the arrangement and taste of a mu- 
latto in the full enjoyment of her freedom ! Do not her thrift 
and industry disprove the oft-repeated charge of indolence that 
is made upon the negro race ? 

She seemed to read my thoughts, and remarked, You are 
surprised, Ann, to see my room so nice ! I read the wonder in 
your face. I have marked it before, in the countenances of 
slaves. They are taught, from their infancy up, to regard 
themselves as unfit for the blessings of free, civilized life ; and 
I am happy to give the lie, by my own manner of living, to this 
rude charge.'' 

" How long have you been free, Louise, and how did you ob- 
tain your freedom ?" 

" It is a long story," she answered ; you must be inchned to 
sleep ; you need rest. At some other time I'll tell you. Here, 
take this arm-chair, it is soft ; and your back is wounded and 
sore ; I am going to dress it for you." 

So saying, she left the room, but quickly returned with a 
basin of warm water and a little canteen of grease. She very 
kindly bade me remove my dress, tlien gently, with a soft 
linten-rag, washed my back, greased it, and made me put on 
one of her linen chemises and a nice gown, and giving me a 
stimulant, bade me rest myself for the niglrt upon her bed, 
which was clean, white, and tempting. 

When she thought I was soundly sleeping, she removed from 
a little swinging book-shelf a well-worn Bible. After reading a 
chapter or so, she sank upon her knees in prayer ! There may 
be those who would laugh and scofP at the piety of this woman, 
because of her tawny complexion ; but the Great Judge, to 
whose ear alone her supplication was made, disregards all such 



MR. TRUEMAN'S kindness. 



307 



distinctions. Her soul was as precious to Him, as though her 
complexion had been of the most spotless snow. 

On the following morning, whilst I was arranging Miss Jane's 
toilette, she said to me, in rather a kind tone : 

Ann, Mr. Summerville wants to sell you, and purchase a 
smaller and cheaper girl for me. Xow, if you behave yourself 
well, ril allow you to choose your own home." 

This was more kindness than I expected to receive from her, 
and I thanked her heartily. 

All that day my heart was dreaming of a new home — perhaps 
a kind, good one ! On the gallery I met Mr. Trueman (I love 
to w^rite h.is name). Rushing eagerly up to him, I offered my 
hand, all oblivious of the wide chasm that the difference of race 
had placed between us ; but, if that thought had occurred to 
me, his benignant smile would have put it to flight. Ah, he 
was the true reformer, v,^ho illustrated, in his own deportment, 
the much talked-of theory of human brotherhood ! He, with all 
his learning, his native talent, his social position and legal prom- 
inence, could condescend to speak in a familiar spirit to the 
lowliest slave, and this made me, soured to harshness, feel at 
ease in his presence. 

I told him that I was fast recovering from the effects of my 
whipping- I spoke of Louise's kindness, &c. 

" I am to be sold, Mr. Trueman ; I wish that you would buy 
me.'^ 

" My good girl, if I had the means I would not hesitate to 
make the purchase, and instantly draw up your free papers ; 
but I am, at the present, laboring under great pecuniary em- 
barrassments, which deny me the right of exercising that gener- 
osity which my heart prompts in this case." 

I thanked him, over and over again, for his kindness. I felt 
not a little distressed when he told me that he should leave for 
Boston early on the following day. In bidding me adieu, he 
slipped, very modestly, into my hand a ten-dollar bill, but this 
I could not accept from one to whom I was already heavily in- 
debted. 



808 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Xo, my good friend, I cannot trespass so mucli upon you. 
Already I am largely your debtor. Take back this money.'' 
I offered him tlie bill, but his face colored deeply, as he replied: 

No, Ann, you would not wound my feelings, I am sure." 

Not for my freedom," I earnestly answered. 
*' Then accept this trifling gift. Let it be among the first of 
your savings, as my contribution, toward the purchase-money for 
your freedom." Seeing that I hesitated, he said, if you per- 
sist in refusing, you will offend me." 

Anything but that," I eagerly cried, as I took the money 
from that blessed, charity-dispensing hand. 

And this was the last I saw of him for many years ; and, 
when we again m.et, the shadow of deeper sorrows was resting 
on my brow. 

***** 
Several weeks had elapsed since ^liss Jane's announcement 
that I was to be sold, and 1 had heard no more of it. I dared 
not renew the subject to her, no matter from what motive, for 
she would have construed it as impudence. But my time was 
now passing in comparative pleasure, for Miss Jane was wholly 
engrossed by fun, frolic, and dissipation. Iler mornings were 
spent in making or receiving fashionable calls, and her after- 
noons were devoted to sleep, whilst the night-time was given 
up entirely to theatres, parties, concerts, and such amusements. 
Consequently my situation, as servant, became pretty much that 
of a sinecure. Oh, what delightful hours I passed in Louise's 
room, reading ! I devoured everything in tlie shape of a book 
that fell into my hands. I began to improve astonishingly in 
my studies. It seemed that knowledge came to me by magic. I 
was surprised at the rapidity of my own advancement. In the 
afternoons, Henry had a good deal of leisure, and he used to 
steal round to Louise's room, and sit with us upon a little bal- 
cony that fronted it, and looked out upon a beautiful view. 
There lay the placid Ohio, and just beyond it ran the blessed 
Indiana shore ! ^>"hy was I not born on that side of the 
river I used to say to Henry, as I pointed across the water. 



LOUISE'S STORY. 



309 



Or whv," he would answer, as his dark eye grew inteiiBely 
black, ''were our ancestors ever stolen from Africa?'' 

" These are questions," said the more philosophical Louise, 
* that we must not propose. They destroy the little happiness 
we already enjoy.'' 

" Yes, you can afford to talk thus, Louise, for you are fr-ee ; 
hut we, poor slaves, know slavery from actual experience and 
endurance," said Henry. 

" I have had my experience too," she answered, '' and a dark 
one has it been." 

The evening on which this conversation occurred, was un- 
usually fair and calm. I shall ever remember it. There we 
three sat, with mournful memories working in our breasts; there 
each looking at the other, murmuring secretly, Mine is the 
heaviest trouble ! " 

Louise," I said, " tell us how you broke the chains of 
bondage.'^ 

''I was," said she, after a moment's pause, "a slave to a 
family of wealth, residing a few miles from New Orleans. I 
am, as you see, but one-third African. My mother was a bright 
mulatto. My father a white gentleman, the brother of my mis- 
tress. Louis De Calmo was his name. My mother was a 
housemaid, and only fifteen years of age at my birth. She 
was of a meek, quiet disposition, and bore with patience all her 
mistress' reproaches and harshness ; but, when alone with my 
father, she urged him to buy me, and he promised her he would; 
still he put her off from time to time She often said to him 
that for herself she did not care ; but, for me, she was all anx- 
iety. She could not bear the idea of her child remaining in 
slavery. All her bright hopes for me were suddenly brought to 
a close by my father's unexpected death. He was killed by 
the explosion of a steamboat on the lower Mississippi, and his 
horribly-mangled body brought home to be buried. My mother 
loved him ; and, in her grief for his death, she had a double 
cause for sorrow. By it her child was debarred the privilege 
of freedom. I was but nine years of age at the time, but I well 



310 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



remember lier wild lamentation. Often slie would catch me to 
her heart, and cry out, * if you could only die I should be so 
happy but I did not. I lived on and grew rapidly. We had 
a very kind overseer, and his son took a great fancy to me. 
He taught me to read and write. I was remarkably quick. 
When I was but fifteen, I recollect mistress fancied, from my 
likely appearance and my delicate, gliding movements, that she 
would make a dining-room servant of me. I was taken into 
the house, and thus deprived of the instructions which the 
overseer's son had so faithfully rendered me. I have often read 
half of the night. Now I approach a melancholy part of my 
story. Master becoming embarrassed in his business, he must 
part with some of his property. Of course the slaves went. 
My mother was numbered among the lot. I longed and begged 
to be sold with her ; but to this mistress would not consent, — 
she considered me too valuable as a house-girl. Well, mother 
and I parted. None can ever know my wretchedness, unless 
they have suffered a similar grief, when I saw her borne weeping 
and screaming away from me. I have never heard from her 
since. Where she went or into whose hands she fell, I never 
knew. She was sold to the highest bidder, under the auc- 
tioneer's hammer, in the New Orleans market. I lived on as 
best I could, bearing an aching heart, whipped for every little 
offence, serving .is a bond-woman, her who was, by nature and 
blood, my Avmt. After a year or so I was sold to James Can- 
field, a bachelor gentleman in New Orleans, and I lived with 
him, as a wife, for a number of years. I had several beautiful 
children, though none lived to be more than a few months old. 
At the death of this man I was set free by his will, and three 
hundred dollars were bequeathed me by him. I had saved a 
good deal of money during his life-time, and this, with his legacy, 
made me independent. I remained in the South but a short 
time. For two years after his death I sojourned in the North, 
sometimes hiring myself out as chambermaid, and at others liv- 
ing quietly on my means ; but I must work. In activity I stifle 
memory, and for awhile am happy, or, at least, tranquil. 



henry's sorrow. 



311 



After this synopsis of her history, Louise was silent. She 
bent her head upon her hand, and mused abstractedly. 

*' I think, Henry, you are a slave," I said, as I turned my eye 
upon his mournful face. 

" Yes, and to a hard master," was the quick reply ; but he 
has promised me I shall buy myself. T am to pay him one 
thousand dollars, in instalments of one hundred dollars each. 
Three of these instalments I have already paid." 

" Does he receive any hire for your services at this hotel ?" 
Oh yes, the proprietor pays him one hundred and fifty dol- 
lars a year for me." 

"How have you made the money 
By working at night and on holidays, going on errands, and 
doing little jobs for gentlemen boarding in the house. Some- 
times I get little donations from kind-hearted persons, Christmas 
gifts in money, &c. All of it is saved." 
You must work very hard." 

** Oh yes, it's very little sleep I ever get. How old would 
you think me ?" 

" Thirty-five," I answered, as I looked at his furrowed face. 

" That is what almost every one says ; yet I am only twenty- 
five. All these wrinkles and hard spots are from work." 

" You ought to rest awhile," I ventured to suggest. 

"Oh, I'll wait until I am my own master; then I'll rest." 

" But you may die before that time comes." 

" So I may, so I may," he repeated despondingly. "All my 
family have died early and from over-work. Sometimes I think 
freedom too great a blessing for me ever to realize." 

He brushed a tear from his eye with the back of his hand. I 
looked at him, so young and energetic, yet lonely. Noble and 
handsome was his face, despite the lines of care and labor. What 
wonder that a soft feeling took possession of my heart, particu- 
larly when I remembered how he had gladdened my imprison- 
ment with kind messages and the gift of flowers. I did but 
follow an irrepressible and spontaneous impulse, when I said 
with earnestness. 



312 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Do not work so hard, Henry/' 

He looked me full in the face. Why did my eye droop 
beneath that warm, inquiring gaze ; and why did he ask so 
low, in a half whisper : 

Should I die who will grieve for me V' 

And did not my uplifted glance tell him who would ? We 
understood each other. Our hearts had spoken, and what fol- 
lowed may easily be guessed. Evening after evening we met 
upon that balcony to pledge our souls in earnest vows. Henry's 
eye grew brighter ; he worked the harder ; but his pile of 
m.oney did not increase as it had done. Many a little present 
to me, many a rare nosegay, that was purchased at a price he 
was not able to afford, put off to a greater distance his day of 
freedom. Like a green, luxuriant spot in the wide desert of a 
lonely life, seems to me the memory of those hours ? On Sun- 
day evenings, when his labor was over, which was generally 
about eight o'clock, we walked through the city, and on moon- 
light nights we strayed upon the banks of the Ohio, and plan- 
ned for the future. 

Henry was to buy himself, then go North, and labor in some 
hotel, or at whatever business he could make the m.ost money ; 
then he would return to buy me. This was one of our plans ; 
but as often as we talked, we made a new one. 

Oh, we shall be so happy, Ann," he would exclaim. 

Then I would repeat the often-asked question, Where shall 
we live ?" 

Sometimes we decided upon New York city ; then a village 
in the State of New York ; but I think Henry's preference 
was a Canadian town. Idle speculators that we were, we 
seldom adhered long to our preference for any one spot ! 

At least, dear," he used to say, in his encouraging way, 

we will hunt a home ; and, no matter where we find it, we 
can make it a happy one if we are together." 

And to this my heart gave a warm echo. I was beginning 
to be happy ; for imagination painted joys in the future, and 
the present was not all mournful, for Henry was with me ! 



THE imiGHTNESS OF LOVE. 



313 



Tho same roof covered us. Twenty times a-day I met liim in 
tlie dining-room, liall, or in the lobby, and he was always with 
me in the evening. 

Slaves as we were, I've often thought as we wandered be- 
neath the golden light of the stars, that, for the time being, 
wo were as happy as mortals could be. Young first-love knit 
the air in a cliarmed silver mist around us ; and, hand in hand, 
we trod the wave-washed shore, always with our eyes turned 
toward the North, the bourne whither all our thoughts inclined. 

*' Does not the north star point us to our future home 
Henry frequently asked. I love to recall this one sunny epoch 
in my life. For months, not an unpleasant thing occurred. 

Immediately after my trial, Monkton left the city, and went, 
as I understood, south. Miss Jane was busied with ftishion and 
gayety. Mr. Summerville was engaged at his business, and 
every one whom I saw was kind to me. So I may record the 
fact that for a while I was happy ! 



CH APTEE XXXIII 



SOLD LIFE AS A SLAVE — PEN — CHARLES' STORY UXCLE 

PETER^S TROUBLE A STAR PEEPING FORTH FROM THE CLOUD. 

"Whilst the hours thus rosily slided away, and I dreamed 
amid the verdure of existence, the syren charmed me wisely, 
indeed, with her beautiful promises. Poor, simple-hearted, 
trusting slaves ! We could not see upon what a rocking bridge 
our feet were resting, how slippery and unsubstantial was the 
flowery declivity whereon we stood. There we reposed in the 
gentle light of a happy trance ; we saw not the clouds, dark 
and tempest-charged, that were rising rapidly to hide the stars 
from our view. 

One Sunday afternoon, Henry having finished his work much 
earlier than usual, and done some little act whereby the good 
will of his temporary master (the keeper of tlie hotel) was pro- 
pitiated, and Miss Jane and Mr. Summerville having gone out, 
I willingly consented to his proposal to take a walk. We ac- 
cordingly wandered off to a beautiful wood, just without the city 
limits, a very popular resort with the negroes and poorer classes, 
though it was the only pretty green woodland near the city. 
Yet, because the " common people and negroes" (a Ken- 
tucky phrase) went there, it was voted vulgar, and avoided by 
the rich and refined. One blessing was thus given to the poor ! 

Henry and I sought a retired part of the grove, and, seating 
ourselves on an old, moss-grown log, we talked with as much 
hope, and indulged in as rosy dreams, as happier and lordlier 
lovers. For three bright hours we remained idly rambling 
through the flower-realm of imagination ; but, as the long 
shadows began to fall among the leaves, we prepared to return 
homo. 

1314] 



SOLD. 



315 



That night when I assisted Miss Jane in getting ready for 
bed, I observed that she was unusually gloomy and petulant. 
I could do nothing to please her ; she boxed my ears repeat- 
edly ; stuck pins in me, called me " detestable nigger," &c. 
Even the presence of Louise failed to restrain her, and I knew 
that something awful had happened. 

For two or three days this cloud that hung about her deep- 
ened and darkened, until she absolutely became unendurable. 
I often found her eyes red and swollen, as though she had 
spent the entire night in weeping. 

Mr. Summerville was gloomy and morose, never saying much, 
and always speaking harshly to his wife. 

At length the explosion came. One morning he said to me, 
*' gather up your clothes, Ann, and come with me ; I have sold 
you." 

Though I was stricken as by a thunderbolt, I dared not 
express my surprise, or even ask who had bought me. All 
that I ventured to say was, 

"Master William, I have a trunk." 

"Well, shoulder it yourself. I'm not going to pay for having 
it taken.'' 

Though my heart was wrung I said nothing, and, lifting up 
my trunk, beneath the weight of which I nearly sank, I followed 
Master William out of the house. 

" Good-bye, Miss Jane," I said. 

" Good-bye, and be a good girl," she replied, kindly, and my 
heart almost softened toward her; for in that moment I felt as 
if deserted by every faculty. 

" Come on, Ann, come on," urged Master William ; and 
I mechanically obeyed. 

In the cross-hall I met Louise, who exclaimed, Why, Ann, 
where are you going ?" 

" I don't know. Louije, I'm sold." 

" Sold ! Who's bought you ?" 

" I don't know — Master William didn't tell me." 

" Who's bought her, Mr. Summerville ?" 



316 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



''Tlie man to wliom I sold her," he answered, with a laugh. 
" But who is he ?" persisted Louise, without noticing the 
^ke. 

Well, Atkins, a negro-trader down here, on Second street." 
" Good gracious !" she cried out ; then, turning to me, said, 
does Henry know it ?" 

I have not seen him." She darted off from us, and we 
walked on. I hoped that she would not see Henry, for I could 
not bear to meet him. It would dispossess me of the little 
forced composure that I had; but, alas ! for the fulfilment of my 
hopes ! in the lower hall, with a countenance full of terror, he 
stood. 

"What are you going to do with Ann, Mr. Summerville ?" 
he inquired. 

" I have sold her to Atkins, and am now taking her to. the 
pen ?" 

Alas ! though his life, his blood, his soul cried out against it, 
he dared not offer any objection or entreaty ; but oh, that hope- 
less look of brokenness of heart ! I see it now, and it comes 
over me like the raven o'er the infected house.'* 

I'll take your trunk round for you, Ann, to-night. It is too 
heavy for you," and so saying, he kindly removed it from my 
shoulder. This little act of kindness was the added drop to the 
already full glass, and my heart overflowed. I wept heartily. 
His tender, " don't cry, Ann," only made me weep the more ; 
and when I looked up and saw his own eyes full of tears, and 
his lip quivering with the unspoken pang, I felt (for the slave at 
least) how wretched a possession is life! 

Master William cut short this parting interview, by saying, 
Never mind that trunk, Henry, Ann can carry it very well." 

And, as I was about to re-shoulder it, Henry said, 

**Xo, Ann, you mustn't carry it. I'll do it for you to-night, 
when my work is over. She is a woman, Mr. Summerville, 
and it's heavy for her ; but it will not be anything for me." 

" Well, if you have a mind to, you may do it ; but I haven't 
any time to parley now, come on." 



THE TRADER. 



317 



Henry pressed my hand affectionately, and I saw the tears 
roll in a stream down his bronzed cheeks. I did not trust my- 
self to speak ; I merely returned the pressure of his hand, and 
silently followed Master William. 

Through the streets, up one and across another, we went, 
until suddenly we stopped in front of a two-story brick house 
with an iron fence in front. Covering a small portion of the 
front view of the main building, an office had been erected, a 
plain, uncarpeted room, from the door of which projected a sheet- 
iron sign, advertising the passers-by, negroes bought and sold 
here." We walked into this room, and upon the table found a 
small bell, which Mr. Summerville rang. In answer to this, 
a neatly-dressed negro boy appeared. To Master William's 
interrogatory, " Is Mr. Atkins in V he answered, most obse- 
fjuiously, that he was, and instantly withdrew. In a few mo- 
ments the door opened, and a heavy man about five feet ten 
inches entered. He was of a most forbidding appearance ; a 
tan-colored complexion, with very black hair and whiskers, 
and mean, watery, milky, diseased-looking eyes. He limped as 
he walked, one leg being shorter than the other, and carried a 
huge stick to assist his ambulations. 

*• Good morning, Mr. Atkins." 

" Good morning, sir," 

" Here is the girl we were speaking of yesterday." 

" Well," replied the other, as he removed a lighted cigar from 
his mouth, " she is likely enough. Take off yer bonnet, girl, let 
me look at yer eyes. They are good ; open your mouth — no 
decayed teeth— all sound; hold up your 'coat, legs are good, 
some marks on 'em — now the back — pretty much and badly 
scarred. Well, what's the damage ?" 

" Seven hundred, cash down. You can recommend her as a 
first-rate house and lady's maid." 
What's your name, girl ?" 
Ann," I replied. 

"Ann, go within," he added, pointing to the door through 
which he had entered. 



318 



AUTOBIOGRAPHV OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



I turned to ]\Ir. Summerville, saying. 

Good-bye, Master William I wish you well." 

Good-bye, Ann," and he extended his hand to me ; " I hope 
IMr. Atkins will get you a good home." 

Dropping a courtesy and a tear, I passed through the door 
designated by Mr. Atkins, and stood Avithin the pen. Here I 
was met by the mulatto who had answered the bell. 

Has you bin bought, Miss ?" 

Yes, Mr. Atkins just bought me." 

Why did your Masser sell you ?" 
" I don't know." 

Oh, that's what the most of 'em says. It 'pears so quare 
ter me for a Masser to sell good sarvants ; but I guess you'll 
soon git a home ; fur you is 'bout the likeliest yaller gal I ever 
seed. Now, thim rale black 'uns hardly ever goes off here- 
We has to send 'em down river, or let 'em ^ro at a mi2:htv low 
price.'' 

" How often do you have sales ?" 

" Oh, we don't have 'em at all. That's we don't have public 
'uns. We sells 'em privately like ; but we buys up more ; and 
when we gits a large number, we ships 'em down de river." 

Wishing to cut short his garrulity, I asked him to show me 
the room where I was to stay. 

In here, wid de rest of 'em," he said, as he opened the door 
of a large shed-room, where I found some ten or twelve negroes, 
women and men, ranged round on stools and chairs, all neatly 
dressed, some of them looking very happy, others with down- 
cast, sorrow-stricken countenances. 

One bright, gold-colored man, with long, silky black hair, 
and raven eyes, full of subdued power, stood leaning his elbow 
against the mantel. His melancholy face and pensive attitude 
struck a responsive feeling, and I turned with a sisterly senti- 
ment toward him. 

I have always been of a taciturn disposition, shunning com- 
pany ; but this man impressed me so favorably, he seemed 
the very counterpart of myself, that I forgot my usual re- 



CHARLES' WRONGS. 



319 



serve, and, after a few moments' investigation of my companions, 
the faces of most of whom were unpleasant to me, I approached 
him and inquired — 

*'Have you been long here 

" Only a few days,'^ he answered, as he lifted his mournful 
eyes towards mine, and I could see from their misty light, that 
they were dimmed by tears. 

Are you sold V I asked. 
* Oh yes," and he shuddered terribly. 

I did not venture to say more ; but stood looking at him, 
when, suddenly he turned to me, saying, 
I know that you are sold.^' 

" Yes/' I replied, with that strong sort of courage that char- 
actdRzed me. 

" You take it calmly," he said ; " have you no friends ?" 

" You do not talk like one familiar with slavery, to speak of 
a slave's having friends." 

True, true ; but I have — oh, God ! — a wife and children, 
and from them I was cruelly torn, and — and — and I saw my 
poor wife knocked flat upon the floor, and because I had the 
manhood to say that it was wrong, they tied me up and slashed 
me. All this is right, because my skin is darker than theirs." 

What a fearful groan he gave, as he struck his breast 
violently. 

The bitterness of all this I too have tasted, and my only 
wonder is, that I can live on. My heart will not break." 

Mine has long since broken ; but this body will not die. 
My poor children ! I w^ould that they were dead with their 
poor slave-mother." 

" Why did your master sell you ?" 

Because he wanted to buy a piano for his daughter^'' and 
his lip curled. 

To gratify the taste of his child, that white man had separated 
a father from his children, had recklessly sundered the holiest 
ties, and broken the most solemn and loving domestic attach- 
ments ; and to such heathenism the public gave its hearty 



320 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE 8LAVE. 



approval, because Lis complexion was a sliade or so darker thau 
Caucasians. Oh, Churcli of Christ ! where is thy warning voice 1 
Is not this a matter, upon the injustice of which thy great 
voice should pronounce a malison ? 
" My name is Charles, what is yours 

" "Well, Ann,'' he resumed, I like your face; you are the 
only one I've seen in this pen that I was willing to talk with. 
You have just come. Tell me why were you sold ?" 

In a few concise words I told him my story. He seemed 
touched with sympathy. 

"Poor girl !" he murmured, ''like all the rest of our tribe, 
you have tasted of trouble." 

I talked with him all the morning, and we both, I think, 
learned what a relief it is to unclose the burdened heart to a 
congenial, listening spirit. 

When we were summoned out to our dinner, I found a very 
bountiful and pretty good meal served up. It is the policy of 
the trader to feed the slaves well ; for, as Mr. Atkins said, " the 
fat, oily, smooth, cheerful ones, always sold the best and, as 
this business is purely a speculation, they do everything, even 
humane things, for the furtherance of their marcenary designs 
I had not much appetite, neither had Charles, as was remarked 
by some of the coarser and more abject of our companions ; and 
I was pained to observe their numerous significant winks and 
blinks. One of them, the old gray mouse of the company, an 
ancient Uncle Xed," who had taken it pretty roughly all his 
days, and who being of the lower order of Epicureans, was, per- 
haps, happier at the pen than he had ever been. And this fel- 
low, looking at me and Charley, said, 

" They's in lub ;" ha ! ha ! ha ! went round the circle. I no- 
ticed Charley's brows knitting severely. I read his thoughts. 
1 knew that he was thinking of his poor wife and of his father- 
less children, and inwardly swearing unfaltering devotion to them. 

Persuasively I said to him, Don't mind them. They are 
scarcely accountable. 



henry's visit. 



321 



"I know it, I know it," he bitterly replied, "but I little 
tliouglit I should ever come to this. Sold to a negro-trader, and 
locked up in a pen with such a set ! IVe always had pride ; 
tried to behave myself well, and to make money for my master, 
and now to be sold to a trader, away from my wife and chil- 
dren He shook his head and burst into tears. I felt that I 
had no words to console him, and I ventured to offer none. 

I managed, by aid of conversation with Charley, to pass the 
day tolerably. There may be those of my readers who will 
ask how this could be. But let them remember that I had 
never been the pampered pet, the child of indulgence ; but that 
I was born to the ignominious heritage of American slavery. 
My feelings had been daily, almost hourly, outraged. This 
evil had not fallen on me as the first misfortune, but as one of a 
series of linked troubles " long drawn out." So I was com- 
paratively fitted for endurance, though by no means stoical ; for 
a certain constitutional softness of temperament rendered me 
always susceptible of anguish to a very high degree. At 
length evening drew on — the beautiful twilight that was written 
down so pleasantly in my memory ; the time that had always 
heralded my re-union with Henry. Now, instead of a sweet 
starlight or moonlight stroll, I must betake myself to a narrow, 

cribbed, cabined, and confined " apartment, through which no 
truant ray or beam could force an entrance ! How my soul 
sickened, over the recollections of lovelier hours ! Whilst I 
moodily sat in one corner of the room, hugging to my soul the 
thought of him from whom I was now forever parted, a sound 
broke on my ear, a sound — a music-sound, that made my nerves 
thrill and my blood tingle ; 'twas the sound of Henry's voice. 
I heard him ask — 

" Where is she ? let me speak to her but a single word f 
and how that mellow voice trembled with the burden of painful 
emotion ! Eagerly I sprang forward ; reserve and maidenly 
coyness all forgotten. My only wish was to lay my weary head 
upon that brave, protecting breast — weep, ay, and die there ! 
" Oh, for a swift death," I frantically cried, as I felt his arms 
14^ 



322 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



about me, wiiile my head was pillowed just above his warm and 
loving heart. I felt its manlv pulsations as with a soft lullaby 
they seemed hushing me to the deep, eternal sleep, wliich I so 
ardently craved ! Better, a thousand times, for death to part 
us, than the white man's cruelty I So we both thought. I read 
his secret wish in the hopeless, vacant, but still so agonized 
look, that he bent upon me. For' one moment, the other slaves 
huddled together in blank amazement. This was to them a 
show," as " uncle Xed " subsequently styled it. 

I've brought your trunk, Ann ; Mr. Atkins ordered me to 
leave it without ; though you'll get it." 

" Thank you, Henry ; it is of small account to me now : yet 
there are in it some few of your gifts that I shall always 
value." 

" Oh, Ann, don't, pray don't talk so mournfully ! Is there 
no hope ? Can't you be sold somewhere in the city ? I have 
got about fifty dollars now in money. I'd stop buying myself, 
and buy you ; make my instalments in fifties or hundreds, as I 
could raise it ; but I spoke to a lawyer about it, and he read 
the law to me, showing that I, as a slave, couldn't be allowed 
to hold property; and there is no white man in whom I have 
sufficient confidence, or who would be willing to accommodate 
me in this way. 'SL'me is a deplorable case ; but I'm going to 
see what can be done. I'll look about among the citizens, to 
see if some of them will not buy you ; for I cannot be sepa- 
rated from you. It will kill me ; it will, it will 

*' Oh, don't, Henry, don't ! for myself I can stand much ; but 
when I think of j/oii.'' 

He caught me passionately to his breast ; and, in tliat em- 
brace, he seemed to say, They shall not jpart us 

He seated himself on a low stool beside me, with one of my 
hands clasped in his, and thus, with his tender eyes bent upon 
me, such is the illusion of love, I forgot the terror by which I 
was surrounded, and yielded myself to a fascination as absorb- 
ing as that which encircled me in the grove on that memorable 
Sunday evening 



DEFIANCE. 



323 



Why, Henry, is this you and a strong hand was laid upon 
his shoulder. Looking up, I beheld Charley. 

And is this you, Charles Allen ?" asked the other. 

YeSj this is me. I dare say you scarcely expected to find 
me here, where I never thought I should be." 

At this I was reminded of the significant ejaculation that 
Ophelia makes in her madness, Lord, we know what we are, 
but we know not what we may be 

I am sold, Henry continued Charles, sold away from my 
poor wife and children his voice faltered and the big tears 
rolled down his cheeks. 

" I see from your manner toward Ann, that she is or was ex- 
pected to be your wife." 

" Yes, she was pledged to be." 

YeSj and is/' I added with fervor. At this, Henry only 
pressed my hand tightly. 

Yet,'' pursued Charles, she is taken from you." 

She is,^' was the brief and bitter reply. 

Now, Henry Graham, are we men ? and do we submit to 
these things 

"Alas !" and the words came through Henry's set teeth, we 
are oiot men ; we are only chattels, property, merchandise, 
slaves.'^ 

" But is it right for us to be so ? I feel the high and lordly 
instincts of manhood within me. Must I conquer them ? Must 
I stifle the eloquent cry of Nature in my breast ? Shall I see 
my wife and children left behind to the mercy of a hard master, 
and willingly desert them simply because another man says 
that, in exchange for this sacrifice of happiness and hope, his 
'daughtej shall play upon Chickering's finest piano ?" 

Heavens ! can I ever forget the princely air with whicli ho 
uttered these words ! His swarthy cheek glowed with a beauti- 
ful crimson, and his rich eye fairly blazed with the fire of a 
seven-times heated soul, whilst the thin lip curled and the fine 
nostril dilated , an^ the whole form towered supremely in the 
^ajesty of erect and perfect manhood ! 



324 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Hush, Charley, hush,'' I urged, " this is no plaee for the 
expression of such sentiments, just and noble as they may be."' 
Again Henry pressed my hand. 

" It may be imprudent, Ann, but I am reckless now. They 
have done the worst they can do. I defy the sharpest dagger- 
point. My breast is open to a thousand spears. They can do no 
more. But how can you, Henry, thus supinely sit by "and see 
yourself robbed of your life's treasure ? I cannot understand 
it. Are you lacking in manliness, in courage ? Are you a 
coward, a slave indeed?" 

Do not listen to him ; leave now, Henry, dear, dear Henry,'' 
I implored, as I observed the singular expression of his face. 
" Go now, dearest, without saying another word ; for my sake 
go. You will not refuse rne V 

" No, I will not, dear Ann ; but there is a fire raging in my 
veins." 

" Yes, and Charley is the incendiary. Go, I beg you." 

With a long, fond kiss, he left me, and it was well he did, for 
in a moment more Mr. Atkins came to give the order for retir- 
ing. 

I found a very comfortable mattress and covering, on the floor 
of a good, neatly-carpeted room, which was occupied by five 
other women. One of them, a gay girl of about fifteen, a full- 
blooded African, made her pallet close to mine. I had observed 
her during the day as a garrulous, racketty sort of baggage, 
that seemed contented with her situation. She was extremely 
neat in her dress ] and her ebony skin had a rich, oily, shiny 
look, resembling the perfect polish of Nebraska blacking on an 
exquisite's boot. Partly from their own superiority, but chiefly 
from contrast vv^ith her complexion, shone white as mountain 
snow, a regular row of ivory teeth. Her large flabby ears 
were adorned by huge wagon-wheel rings of pinch-beck, and 
a cumbersome strand of imitation coral beads adorned her inky 
throat, whilst her dress was of the gaudiest colors, plaided in 
large bars. Thus decked out, she made quite a figure in the 
assemblage. 



LUCY'S UUESTIONING. 



325 



" Is yer name Ann she unceremoniously asked. 
" Yes," was my laconic reply. 

" Mine is Lucy ; but they calls me Luce fur short.'' 
No answer being made, she garrulously went on : 

Was that yer husband what corned to see you this evenin' 

No." 

Your brother V 
*'No." 

** Your cousin ?" 
" Neither." 

" Well, he's too young-lookin' fur yev father. Mought he be 
yer uncle ?" 
No." 

"Laws, then he mus' be yer sweetheart and she chuckled 
with mirth. 

I made no answer. 

Why don't you talk, Ann ?" 
" I don't feel like it." 
" You don't ? well, that's quare." 

Still I made no comment. Nothing daunted, she went on : 

" Is yer gwine down the river with the next lot ?" 

** I don't know ;" but this time I accompanied my reply with 
a sigh. 

What you grunt fur ?" 

I could not, though so much distressed, resist a laugh at this 
singular interrogatory. 

*' Don't yer want to go South ? I does. They say it's right 
nice down dar. Plenty of oranges. When Masser fust sold me, 
I was mightily 'stressed ; den Missis, she told me dat dar was a 
sight of oranges down dar, and dat we didn't work any on Sun- 
days, and we was 'lowed to marry ; so I got mightily in de 
notion of gwine. You see Masser Jones never 'lowed his black 
folks to marry. I wanted to marry four, five men, and he 
wouldn't let me. Den we had to work all day Sundays; never 
had any time to make anyting for ourselves ; and I does love 
oranges! I never had more an' a quarter of one in my life." 



326 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



1 



Thus she wandered on until she fell ofip to sleep ; but tlie 
leaden-winged cherub visited me not that night. My eye-lids 
refused to close over the parched and tear-stained orbs. I 
dully moved from side to side, changed and altered my position 
fifty times, yet there Avas no repose for me. 

" Not poppy nor mandragora 
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world, 
Could then medicine me to that sweet sleep 
Which I owed yesterday." 

I saw the dull gray streak of the morning beam, as coldly it 
played through the gratings of my room. There, scattered in 
dismal confusion over the floor, lay the poor human beings, for 
whose lives, health and happiness, save as conducing to the pe- 
cuniary advantage of the trafficker, no thought or care was 
taken. T rose hastily and adjusted m}- dress, for I had not re- 
moved it during the night. The noise of my rising aroused 
several of the others, and simultaneously they sprang to their 
feet, apprehensive that they had slept past the prescribed hour 
for rising. Finding that their alarm was groundless, and that 
they were by the clock an hour too early, they grumbled a 
good deal at what they thought my unnecessary awaking. I 
would have given much to win to my heart the easy indifference 
to fate, which many of them wore like a loose glove ; but 
there I was vulnerable at evciy pore, and wounded at each. 
What a curse to a slave's life is a sensitive nature I 

That day closed as had the preceding, save that at evening 
Henry did not come as before. I wandered out in the yard, 
which was surrounded by a high brick-wall, covered at the top 
with sharp iron spikes, to prevent the escape of slaves. Through 
this barricaded ground I was allowed to take a little promenade. 
There was not a shrub or green blade of grass to enliven me ; 
but my eyes lingered not upon the earth. They were turned 
up to the fall moon, shining so round and goldenly from the pur 
pie heaven, and, scattered sparsely through the fields of azure, 
were a few stars, looking brighter and larger from their scarcity. 



LIFE AT THE PEX. 



327 



"Will my death-liour ever come?" I asked myself despair- 
ingly. " Have I not tasted of the worst of life ? Is not the 
poisoned cup drained to its last dregs V 

I fancied that I heard a voice answer, as from the clouds, 

**No, there are a few bitterer drops that must yet be drunk. 
Press the goblet still closer to your lips." 

I shuddered coldly as the last tones of the imagined voice 
died away upon the soft night air. 

"Is that," I cried, "a prophet warning ? Comes it to me 
now that I may gird m}^ soul for the approaching warfare ? Let 
me, then, put on my helmet and buckler, and, like a life-tired 
soldier, rush headlong into the thickest of the fight, praying 
that the first bullet may prove a friend and drink my blood ! " 

Yet I shrank, like the weakest and most fearful of my race, 
when the distant cotton-fields rose upon my mental view ! 
There, beneath the heat of a " hot and copper sky," I saw my- 
self wearily tugging at my assigned task ; yet my fear was not 
for the physical trouble that awaited me. Had Henry been 
going, " down the river" would have had no terror for me ; but 
I was to part from joy, from love, from life itself! Oh, why, 
why have we — poor bondsmen and bondswomen — these fine 
and delicate sensibilities ? Why do we love ? Why are we not 
all coarse and hard, mere human beasts of burden, with no 
higher mental or moral conception, than obedience to the will 
or caprice of our owners ? 

Night closed over this second weary day. And thus passed 
on many days and nights. I did som.e plain sewing by way of 
employment, and at the command of a mulatto woman, who was 
the kept mistress of Atkins, and therefore placed in authority 
over us. Many of the women were hired out to residents of 
the city on trial, and if they were found to be agreeable and 
good servants, perhaps they were purchased. Before sending 
them out, Mr. Atkins always called them to him, and, shaking 
his cane over their heads, said, 

"Now, you d d hussy, or rascal (as they chanced to be 

male or female) if you behave yourselves well, you'll find a 



32S 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE >L\VE. 



good liome ; bnt you dare to get sick or misbeliave. and be sent 
back i/o me, and Til thrasb von in an inch of yonr cursed life.'' 
N\ itb tbis demoniacal tbreat ringing in tbeir ears, it is not 
likely tbat tbe poor wretclies started off with any intention of 
bad conduct. 

TVe constantly received accessions to our number, but never 
acquisitions, for the poor, ill-fed, ill-kept wretches that c^me in 
there, " sold (as Atkins said ) for a mere song." were desolate 
and revolting to see. 

Charley found one or two old books, that he seemed to read 
and re-read ; indifferent novels, perhaps, that served, at least, to 
keep down tbe ravening tortures of thought. I lent him my 
Testament, and he read a great deal in it. He said that he had 
one, bnt had left it with his wife. He was a member of the 
Methodist Church : had gone on Sunday afternoons to a school 
that had been established for the benefit of colored people, and 
thus, unknown to his master, had acquired the first principles 
of a good education. He could read and write, and was in pos- 
session of the rudiments of arithmetic. He told m.e that his 
wife had not had the opportunities he had, and therefore she 
was more deficient, but he added, " she had a great thirst for 
knowledge, such as I have never seen excelled, and rarely 
equalled. I have known her, after the close of her daily labors, 
devote the better portion of the night to study. I gave her all 
the instruction I could, and she was beginning to read with con- 
siderable accuracy ; but all that is over, past and gone now.'' 
And again he ground his teeth fiercely, and a wild, lurid light 
gathered in his eye. 

This man almost made me oblivious of my own grief, in 
sympathy for his. I did all I could by moral suasion.'' as 
the politicians say, to soften his resentment. I bade him turn 
his thoughts toward that religion which he had espoused. 

" I have no religion for this,'* he would bitterly say. 

And in truth, I fear me much if the heroism of saints would 
hold out on such occasions. There, fastened to that impassioned 
husband's heart, playing with its dearest chords, was the fang- 



A NEW COMER. 



329 



like band of the white man 1 Oh, slow tortures ! in comparison 
to which that of Prometheus was very pleasure. There is no 
Tartarus like that of wounded, agonized domestic love ! Far 
away from him, in a lonely cabin, be beheld his stricken wife 
and all his " pretty chickens " pining and unprotected. 

Slowly, after a few days, be relapsed into that stony sort 
of despair that denies itself the gratification of speech. The 
change was very painfully visible to me, and I tried, by every 
artifice, to arouse him ; but I had no power to wake him. 

*' Give sorrow words ; the ^ief that does not speak, 
Whispers the o'erfraught heart, and bids it break." 

And soon learning this, I left him, a remorseless prey to that 
" rooted sorrow'^ of the brain. 

One day, as we all sat in the shed-room, engaged at our 
various occupations, we were roused by a noise of violent 
weeping, and something like a rude scuffle just without the 
door, when suddenly Atkins entered, dragging after him, with 
his hand close about his throat, a poor negro man, aged and 
worn, with a head white as cotton. 

"Oh, please, Masser, jist let me go back, an' tell de ole 
'ooman farewell, an' I won't ax for any more." 

*']S^o, you old rascal, you wants to run away. If you say 
another word about the old voman, I'll beat the life out of 
you." 

Oh lor', oh lor', de poor ole 'ooman an' de boys ; oh my ole 
heart will bust!" and, sobbing like a cliild, the old man sank 
down upon the floor, in the most abandoned grief. 

Here, boys, some of you git the fiddle and play, an' I war- 
rant that old fool will be dancin' in a minnit," said Atkins in his 
unfeeling way. 

Of course this speech met with the most signal applause 
from " de boys'' addressed. 

I watched the expression of Charles' face. It was frightful. 



330 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEiMALE SLAVE. 



He sat m one corner, as usual, with an open book in his hand. 
From it he raised his eyes, and, Avhilst the scene between At- 
kins and the old negro was going on, they flashed with* an ex- 
pression that I could not fathorn. His brows knit, and his lip 
curled, yet he spoke no word. 

When Atkins withdrew, the old man lay there, still weeping 
and sobbing piteously. I went up to him, kindly saying, 

*' What is the matter, old uncle'?" 

The sound of a kind voice aroused him, and looking up 
through his streaming tears, he said. 

Oh, chile, I's got a poor ole 'ooman dat lives 'bout half 
mile in de country. Masser fotcli me in town to-day, an' say 
he was agwine to hire me fur a few weeks. Wal, I beliebed 
him, bekase Masser has bin hard run far money, an' I was will- 
in' to hope him 'long, so I consented to be hired in town fur 
little while, and den go out an' see de ole 'ooman an^ de boys 
Saturday nights. Wal, de fust thing I knowed when I got to 
town I was sold to a trader. Masser wouldn't tell me liisself ; 
but, when I got here, de gemman what I thought I was hired 
to, tola me dat Masser Atkins had bought me ; an' I wanted to 
go back an' ask Masser, but he laughed an^ say 'twant no use, 
Masser done gone out home. Oh, lor' ! 'peared like dere was 
nobody to trus' to den. I begged to go an' say good-bye ; but 
dey 'fused me dat, an' Masser Atkins ^gan to swear, an' he 
struck me 'cross de head. Oh, I didn't tink Masser wud do 
me so in my ole age !" 

I ask you, reader, if for a sorrow like this there -vvas any 
word of comfort ? I tliought not, and did not dare try to offer 
any. 

Will scenes like these ever cease ?" I fretfully asked, as 
I turned to Charles. 

Never !" was the bitter answer. 
This old man talked constantlyof his little woolly-headed 
boys. When telling of their sportive gambols, he would smile, 
even whilst the tears were flowing down his cheeks. 

He often had a crowd of slaves around him listening to his 



LOUISE'S VISIT. 



331 



talk of " wife and children," but I seldom made one of tlie 
number, for it saddened me too much. I knew that he was 
telling of joys that could never come to him again. 

On one of these occasions, when uncle Peter, as he was called, 
was deep in the merits of his conversation, I was sitting in 
the corner of the room sewing, when Luce came running 
breathlessly up to me, with a bunch of beautiful flowers in her 
hand. 

" Oh, Ann," she exclaimed, " dat likely-lookin' yallow man, 
dat cum to see you, an' fetch yer trunk de fust night yer corned 
here, was passin' by, an' I was stanin' at de gate ; an' he axed 
me to han' dis to you." 

And she gave me the bouquet, which I took, breathing a 
thousand blessings upon the head of my devoted Henry. 

I had often wondered why Louise had never been to see 
me. She knew very well where I was, and access to me was 
easy. But I was not long kept in suspense, for, on that very 
night she came, bringing with her a few sweetmeats, which I 
distributed among those of my companions who felt more in- 
clined to eat them than I did. 

" I have wondered, Louise, why you did not come sooner." 
Well, the fact is, Ann, I've been busy trying to find you a 
home. I couldn't bear to come without bringing you good 
news. Henry and I have worked hard. All of our leisure 
moments have been devoted to it. We have scoured this city 
over, but with no success ; and, hearing yesterday that Mr. 
Atkins would start down the river to-morrow, with all of you, 
I could defer coming no longer. Poor Henry is too much dis- 
tressed to come ! He says he'll not sleep this night, but will 
ransack the city till he finds somebody able and willing to res- 
cue you." 

How does he look?" I asked. 

Six years older than when you saw him last. He takes 
this very hard; has lost his appetite, and can't sleep at 
night." 

I said nothing ; but my heart was full, full to overflowing. I 



332 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



longed to be alone, to fall with my face on the earth and weep. 
The presence of Louise restrained me, for I always shrank from 
exposing my feelings. 

*'Are we going to-morrow ?" I inquired. 
Yes, Mr. Atkins told me so this evening. Did you not know 
of it?" 

"No, indeed; am I among the lot ?*' 

After a moment's hesitation she replied, 
Yes, he told me that you were, and, on account of your 
beauty, he expected you would bring a good price in the South- 
ern market. Oh heavens, Ann, this is too dreadful to repeat ; 
yet you will have to know of it.'' 

Oh yes, yes and I could no longer restrain myself ; I fell, 
weeping, in her arms. 

She could not remain long with me, for Mr. Atkins closed up 
the establishment at half-j^ast nine. Bidding me an affectionate 
farewell, and assuring me that she would, with Henry, do all 
that could be done for my relief, she left me. 

A most wretched, phantom-peopled night was that ! Ten thou- 
sand horrors haunted me ! Of course I slept none ; but imagina- 
tion seemed turned to a fiend, and tortured me in divers ways. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 



SCENE IN THE PEN — STARTING "DOWN THE RIVER" — UNCLE 
PETER'S TRIAL — MY RESCUE. 

On the next day, after breakfast, Mr. Atkins came in, saying, 
Well, niggers, git yourselves ready. You must all start 
down the river to-day, at ten o^clock. A good boat is going out. 
Huddle up your clothes as quick as possible — no fuss, now.'' 

When he left, there was lamentation among some ; silent 
mourning with others ; joy for a few. 

Shall I ever forget the despairing look of Charley ? How 
passionately he compressed his lips ! I went up to him, and, 
laying my hand on his arm, said, 

"Let us be strong to meet the trouble that is sent us 

He looked at me, but made no reply. I thought there was 
the wildness of insanity in his glance, and turned away. 

It was now eight o'clock, and I had not heard from Henry or 
Louise. Alas ! my heart misgave me. I had been buoyed up 
for some time by the flatteries and delusions of Hope ! but now 
I felt that I had nothing to sustain me ; the last plank had 
sunk ! 

I did not pretend to get myself ready," as Mr. Atkins had 
directed ; the fact is, I was ready. The few articles of wearing 
apparel that I called mine were all in my trunk, with some lit- 
tle presents that Henry had made me, such as a brooch, ear- 
rings, &c. These were safely locked, and the key hung round 
my neck. But the others were busy getting ready.'' I was 
standing near the door, anxiously hoping to see either Henry or 
Louise, when an old negro woman, thinly clad, without any 
bonnet on her head, and with a basket in her hand, came up to 
me, saying, 

[383] 



334 



AUTOBIOGHAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



^* Please mam, is my ole man in here ? De massa out here 
say I may speak 'long wid him, and say farwell and she 
wiped her eyes with the comer of an old torn check apron. 

I was mnch touched, and asked her the name of her old man. 
Pete, manu" 

" Oh, yes, he is within," and I stepped aside to let her pass 
through the door. 

She went hohhling along, making her passage through the 
crowd, and I followed after. In a few moments Pete saw her. 

"Oh dear! oh dear!'' he cried out, "Judy is come;" and 
running up to her, he embraced her most affectionately. 

"Yes," she said, "1 begged Masser to let me come and see 
you. It was long time before he told me dat you was sole to 
a trader and gwine down de ribber. Oh, Lord ! it 'pears like I 
ken never git usin to it ! Dars no way for me ever to hear from 
you. You kan't write, neither ken I. Oh, what shill we do ?" 

"I doesn't know, Judy, we's in de hands ob de Lord. We 
mus' trus' to Him. Maybe He'll save us. Keep on prayin', Jndy.^ 

The old man's voice grew very feeble, as he asked, 

"An de chillen, de boys, how is dey ? ' 

" Oh, dey is well. Sammy wanted to come long 'wid me ; hut 
it was too fur for him to walk. Joe gib me dis, and say, take 
it to daddy from me." 

She looked in her hasket, and drew out a little paintod cedar 
whistle. The tears rolled down the old man's cheeks as he 
took it, and, looking at it, he shook his head mournfully. 

Poor boy, dis is what I give him fur a Christmas gift, an' he 
sot a great store to it. Only played wid it of Sundays and holi- 
days. Xo, take it back to him, an' tell him to play wid it, and 
cever forget his poor ole daddy dat's sole 'way down de ribber T 

Here he fairly broke d«»wn, ancl, bursting into tears, wept 
aloud. 

" Oh, God hab bin marcifol to me in lettin' me see you, Judy, 
once agin I an' I am an ongratefcil sinner not to bar up better." 
Judy was weeping violently. 
Oh. if dey would but buy me I I wants to go long wid you.'' 



SEPARATION OF HUSBAND AM) WIFE. 



335 



" No, no, Judj, you must stay long wid de chillen, an' take 
kere ob 'em. Besides, you is not strong enough to do de work 
dey would want you to do. No, I had better go by myself,'' and 
he wiped his eyes with his old coat sleeve. 

I Yy ish," he added, dat I had some little present to send de 
boys," and, fumbling away in his pocket, he at length drew out 
two shining brass buttons that he had picked up in the yard. 

Give dis to ^em ; say it was all thar ole daddy had to send 
'em ; but, maybe, some time I'll have some money ; and if I 
meet any friends down de ribber, I'll send it to 'em, and git a 
letter writ back to let you and 'em know whar I is sold." 

Judy opened her basket, and handed him a small bundle. 
Here, Pete, is a couple of shirts and a par of trowsers I 
fetched you, and here's a good par of woollen socks to keep you 
warm in de winter ; and dis is one of Masser's ole woollen 
undershirts dat Missis sent you. You know how you allers suf- 
fers in cold wedder wid de rheumatiz." 

" Tell Missis thankee," and his voice was choking in his 
throat. 

There was many a tearful eye among the company, looking 
at this little scene. But, suddenly it was broken up by the 
appearance of Mr. Atkins. 

" Well, ole woman," he began, addressing Uncle Pete's wife, 
it is time you was agoin'. You has staid long enough. Thar's 
no use in makin' a fuss. Pete belongs to me, an' I am agoin' 
to sell him to the highest bidder I can find down the river." 

" Oh, Masser, vv^on't you please buy me ?" asked Judy. 

" No, you old fool." 

" Oh, hush Judy, pray hush," put in Pete; "humor her a 
little Masser Atkins, she will go in a minnit. Now do go, honey," 
he added, addressing Judy, who stood a moment, irresolutely, 
regarding her old husband ; then screaming out, Oh no, no, 
T can't leave you! " fell down at his feet half insensible. 

" Oh, Lord Jesus, hab marcy !" groaned Pete, as he bent over 
his partner's body. 



336 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Take her out, instantly," exclaimed Atkins, as one of the 
men dragged the body out. 

Please be kereful, don't hurt her," implored Pete. 
'* Behave yourself, and don't go near her," said Atkins to 
him, " or Til have both you an' her flogged. I am not goin' 
to have these fusses in my pen." 

All this time Charley's face was frightful. As Atkins passed 
along he looked toward Charley, and I thought he quailed be- 
fore him. That regal face of the mulatto man was well calcu- 
lated to awe such a sinister and small soul as Atkins. 

Yes, yes, Charles, that proud spirit of yourn will git pretty 
well broken down in the cotton fields/' he murmured, just loud 
enough to be heard. Charles made no answer, though I ob- 
served that his cheek fairly blazed. 

When we were all bonneted, trunks corded down, and 
bundles tied up, waiting, in the shed-room, for the order to get 
in the omnibus. Uncle Pete suddenly spied the basket which 
Judy, in her insensibility, had left. Picking it up, I saw the 
tears glitter in his eyes when the two bright buttons rolled out 
on the floor. 

" These puttys," he muttered to himself, was fur de boys. 
Poor fellows ! Now dey won't have any keepsake from dar 
daddy ; and den here's de little cedar whistle ; oh, I wish I 
could send it out to 'em." Looking round the room he saw 
Kitty, the mulatto woman, of whom I have before spoken as the 
mistress of Atkins. 

Oh, please, Kitty, will you have dis basket, dis whistle, and 
dese putty buttons, sent out to Mr. John Jones', to my ole 
'ooman Judy 

Yes," answered the woman, I will." 
*' Thankee mam, and you'll very much oblige me." 
Come 'long with you all. The omnibus is ready," cried 
out Atkins, and we all took up the line of march for the door, 



A SAFE DELIVERANCE. 



337 



each pausing to say good-bye to Kitty, and yet none caring 
much for her, as she had not been agreeable to us. 

"Going down the river, really," I said to myself. 

**Wait a minnit," said Atkins, and calling to a sort of fore- 
man, who did his roughest work, he bade him handcuff us. 

How fiercely-proud looked the face of Charles, as they fast- 
ened the manacles on his wrists. 

I made no complaint, nor offered resistance. My heart was 
maddened. I almost blamed Louise, and chided Henry for not 
forcing my deliverance. I could have broken the handcuffs, so 
strongly was I possessed by an unnatural power, 

Git in the 'bus," said the foreman, as he riveted on the 
last handcuff. 

Just as I had taken my seat in the omnibus, Henry came 
frantically rushing up. The great beads of perspiration stood 
upon his brow ; and his thick, hard breathing, was frightful. 
Sinking down upon the ground, all he could say was, 

**Ann! Ann!" 

I rose and stood erect in the omnibus, looking at him, but 
dared not move one step toward him. 

" What is the matter with that nigger ?" inquired Atkins, 
pointing toward Henry. Then addressing the driver, he bade 
him drive down to the wharf. 

" Stop ! stop !" exclaimed Henry ; ''in Heaven's name stop, 
Mr. Atkins, here's a gentleman coming to buy Ann. Wait a 
moment." 

Just then a tall, grave-looking man, apparently past forty, 
walked up. 

Who the d 1 is that ?" gruffly asked Mr. Atkins. 

It is Mr. Moodwell," Henry replied. '' He has come to 
buy Ann." 

Who said that I wanted to sell her 
" You would let her go for a fair price, wouldn't you ?" 
" No, but I would part with her for a first-rate one." 
Just then, as hope began to relume my soul, Mr. Moodwell 
approached Atkins, saying, 
15 



33S 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



"I wish to buy a yellow girl of you." 
Whicli one r 

*' A girl by the name of Ann. TThere is she 

"Don't yon know her by sight ?" 

" Certainly not, for I have never seen her." 
You don't want to buy without first seeing her ?" 
I take her upon strong recommendation." 

With a dogged, and I fancied disappointed air, Atkins bade 
me stand forth. Right willingly I obeyed : and appearing be- 
fore Mr. Moodwell, with a smiling, hopeful face, I am not sur- 
prised that he was pleased with me, and readily paid down the 
price of a thousand dollars that was demanded by Atkins. 
When I saw the writings drawn up, and became aware that I 
had passed out of the trader's possession, and could remain near 
Henry, I lifted my eyes to Heaven, breathing out an ardent 
act of adoration and gratitude. 

Quickly Henry stood beside me, and clasping my yielding 
hand within his own, whispered, 

*• You are safe, dear Ann." 

I had no words wherewith to express my thankfulness; but 
the happy tears that glistened in my eyes, and the warm pres- 
sure of the hand that I gave, assured him of the sincerity of my 
gratitude. 

My trunk was very soon taken down from the top of the 
omnibus and shouldered by Henry. 

Looking up at my companions, I beheld the savagely-stern 
face of Charles ; and thinking of his troubles, I blamed myself 
for having given up to selfish joy, when such agony was within 
my sight. I rushed up to the side of the omnibus and extended 
my hand to him. 

God has taken care of you," he said, with a groan, but I 
am forgotten I" 

** Don't despair of His mercy, Charley." More I could not 
say : for the order was given them to start, and the heavy 
vehicle rolled away. 



HOURS OF SICKNESS. 



339 



As I turned toward Hemy he remarked the shadow upon 
my brow, and tenderly inquired the cause. 
" I am distressed for Charley." 

" Poor fellow ! I would that I had the power to relieve him." 
Come on, come on," said Mr. Moodwell, and we followed 
him to the G House, where I found Louise, anxiously wait- 
ing for me. 

You are safe, thank Heaven!" she exclaimed, and joyful 
tears were rolling down her smooth cheeks. 

The reaction of feeling was too powerful for me, and my 
health sank under it. I was very ill for several weeks, with 
fever. Louise and Henry nursed me faithfully. Mr. Mood- 
well had purchased me for a maiden sister of his, who was then 

travelling in the Southern States, and I was left at the G 

House until I should get well, at which time, if she should not 
have returned, I was to be hired out until she came. I recollect 
well when I first opened my eyes, after an illness of weeks. 
I was lying on a nice bed in Louise's room. As it was a cool 
evening in the early October, there was a small comfort-diffusing 
fire burning in the grate ; and on a little stand, beside my bed, 
was a very pretty and fragrant bouquet. Seated near me, with 
my hand in his, was the one being on earth whom I best loved. 
He was singing in a low, musical tone, the touching Ethiopian 
melody of " Old Folks at Home." Slowly my eyes opened 
upon the pleasant scene ! Looking into his deep, witching eyes, 
I murmured low, whilst my hand returned the pressure of his, 

*' Is it you, dear Henry 

" It is I, my love ; I have just got through with my work, 
and I came to see you. Finding you asleep, I sat down beside 
you to hum a favorite air ; but I fear, that instead of calming, 
I have broken your slumber, sweet." 

" Xo, dearest, I am glad to be aroused. I feel so much better 
than I have felt for weeks. My head is free from fever, and 
except for the absence of strength, am as well as I ever was." 

Oh, it makes me really happy to hear you say so. I have 
been so uneasy about you. The doctor was afraid of conges- 



340 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



tion of the brain. You Ccannot know liow I suffered in mind 
about you ; but now vour flesh feels cool and pleasant, and 
your strength will, I trust, soon return." 

Just then Louise entered, bearing a cup of tea and a nice 
brown slice of toast, and a delicate piece of chicken, on a neat 
little salver. At sight of this dainty repast, my long-forgotten 
appetite returned, with a most healthful vigor. But my kind 
nurse, who was glad to find me so well, determined to keep me 
so, and would not allow me a hearty indulgence of appetite. 

In a few days I was able to sit up in an easy chair, and, at 
every opportunity, Louise would amuse me with some piece of 
pleasant gossip, in relation to the boarders, <5cc. And Henry, 
my good, kind, noble Henry, spent all his spare change in buy- 
ing oranges and pine-apples for me, and in sending rare bouquets, 
luxuries in which I took especial delight. Then, during the 
long, cheerful autumnal evenings, when a fire sparkled in the 
grate, he would, after his work was done, bring his banjo and 
play for me ; whilst his rich, gushing voice warbled some old 
familiar song. Its touching plaintiveness often brought the 
tears to my eyes. 

Thus passed a few weeks pleasantly enough for me ; but like 
all the other rose-winged tours, they soon had a close. 

My strength had been increasing rapidly, and Mr. Moodwell, 
the brother and agent of my mistress, concluded that [ was 
strong enough to be hired out. Accordingly, he apprized me 
of his intention, saying, 

Ann, sister Xancy has vrritten me word to hire you out 
until spring, when she will return and take you home. I have 
selected a place for you, in the capacity of house-servant. You 
must behave yourself well." 

I assured him that I would do my best ; then asked the name 
of the family to whom I was hired. 

"To Josiah Smith, on Chestnut street, I have hired you. He 
Las two daughters and a young niece living with him, and wishes 
you to wait on them." 

After apprizing Henry and Louise of my new home, pro tern., 



THE TEMPORARY HOME. 



341 



I requested the former to bring my trunk out that night, which 
he readily promised. Bidding them a kind and cheerful adieu, 
I followed Mr. Moodwell out to Chestnut street. 

This is one of the most retired and beautiful streets in the 
city of L , and Mr. Josiah Smith's residence the very hand- 
somest among a number of exceedingly elegant mansions. 

Opening a bronze gate, we passed up a broad tesselated stone 
walk that led to the house, which was built of pure white stone, 
and three stories in height, with an observatory on the top, and 
the front ornamented with a richly-wrought iron verandah. 
Reposing in front upon the sward, were two couchant tigers of 
dark gray stone. 

Passing through the verandah, we stopped at the mahogany 
door until Mr. Moodwell pulled the silver bell-knob, which was 
speedily answered by a neatly-dressed man-servant, who bade 
Mr. Moodwell walk in the parlor, and requested me to wait 
without the door until he could find leisure to attend to me. 

I obeyed this direction, and amused myself examining what 
remained of a very handsome flower-garden, until he returned, 
when conducting me around, by a private entrance, he ushered 
me into the kitchen. 



CHAPTBE XXXY. 



THE NEW HOME — A PLEASAISlT FAMILY GROUP QUlET LOVE- 
MEETINGS. 

I BECAME domesticated very soon in Mr. Josiali Smith's 
family. I learned wliat my work was, and did it very faith- 
fully, and I believe to their satisfaction. 

The family proper consisted of Mr. Smith, his wife, two 
daughters, and a niece. Mr. Smith was a merchant, of con- 
siderable wealth and social influence, and the young ladies were 
belles par-excellence. Mrs. Smith was the domestic of the con- 
cern, who carried on the establishment, a little, busy, fussy sort 
of woman, that went sailing it round the house with a huge 
bunch of keys dangling at her side, an incessant scold, with a 
voice sharp and clear like a steamboat bell ; a managing, thrifty 
sort of person, a perfect terror to negroes ; up of a morning 
betimes, and in the kitchen, fussing with the cook about break- 
fast. 

I had very little to do with Mrs. Letitia. My business was 
almost exclusively with the young ladies. I cleaned and ar- 
ranged their rooms, set the parlors right, swept and dusted 
them, and then attended to the dining-room. This part of my 
work threw me under Mrs. Letitia's dynasty ; but as I gene- 
rally did my task well, she had not much objection to make, 
though her natural fault-finding disposition sharpened her optics 
a good deal, and she generally discovered something about 
which to complain. 

Miss Adele Smith was the elder of the two daughters, a tall, 
pale girl, with dark hair, carefully banded over a smooth, 
polished brow, large black eyes and a pleasing manner. 

[342] 



KINDNESS OF THE YOUNG LADIES. 



343 



Tlie second, Miss Nellie, was a round, plump girl of blonde 
complexion, fair hair and light eyes, with a rich peach-flush on 
her cheek, and a round, luscious, cherry-red mouth, that was 
always curling and curvetting with smiles. 

The cousin, Lulu Carey, was a real romantic character, with 
a light, fragile form, milk-white skin, the faintest touch of car- 
mine playing over the cheek, mellow gray eyes, earnest and 
loving, and a profusion of chestnut-brown hair fell in the richest 
ringlets to her waist. Her features and caste of face were per- 
fect. She was habited in close mourning, for her mother had 
been dead but one year, and the half-perceptible shadow of grief 
that hung over her face, form and manner, rendered her glori- 
ous beauty even more attractive. 

It was a real pleasure to me to serve these young ladies, for 
though they were the elite, the cream of the aristocracy, they 
were without those offensive *'airs" that render the fashionable 
society of the West so reprehensible. Though their parlors 
were filled every evening with the gayest company, and they 
were kept up late, they always came to their rooms with pleas- 
ant smiles and gracious words, and often chided me for remain- 
ing out of bed. 

Don't wait for us, Ann," they would say. It isn't right 
to keep you from your rest on our account." 

1 slept on a pallet in their chamber, and took great delight in 
remaining up until they came, and then assisted them in disrobing. 

It was the first time I had ever known white ladies (and 
young) to be amiable, and seemingly philanthropic, and of 
course a very powerful interest was excited for them. They 
had been educated in Boston, and had imbibed some of the 
liberal and generous principles that are, I think, indigenous to 
high Northern latitudes. Indeed, I believe Miss Lulu strongly 
inclined toward their social and reformatory doctrines, though 
she did not dare give them any very open expression, for Mr. 
and Mrs. Josiah Smith were strong pro-slavery, conservative 
people, and would not have countenanced any dissent from their 
opinions. 



344 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



Mrs. Smith used to say, Niggers ought to be exterminated/* 
And Miss Lulu, in her quiet way, would reply, 
" Yes, as slaves they should be exterminated.'^ 
And then how pretty and naively she arched her pencilled 
brows. This was always understood by the sisters, who must 
have shared her liberal views. 

Mr. Smith was so much absorbed in mercantile matters, that 
he seldom came home, except at meals or late at night, when 
the household was wu-apped in sleep ; and, even on Sundays, 
when all the world took rest, he was locked up in his counting- 
room. This seemed singular to me, for a man of Mr. Smith's 
reputed and apparent wealth might have found time, at least on 
Sunday, for quiet. 

The young ladies were very prompt and regular in their at 
tendance at church, but I used often to hear Miss Lulu exclaim, 
after returning, 

** Why don't they give us something new ? These old rags 
of theology weary, not to say annoy me. If Christianity is 
marching so rapidly on, why have we still, rising up in our 
very midst, institutions the vilest and most revolting ! Why 
are we cursed with slavery ? Why have we houses of prosti- 
tution, where beauty is sold for a price ? Why have we pest 
and alms-houses ? Who is the poor man's friend ? Who is there 
with enough of Christ's spirit to speak kindly to the Magdalene, 
and bid her ' go and sin no more ' ? Alas, for Christianity to- 
day ! " 

" But we must accept life as it is, and patiently wait the 
coming of the millennium, when things will be as they ought,'^ 
was Miss Adele's reply. 

" Oh, now coz, don't you and sis go to speculating ujion life's 
troubles, but come and tell me what I shall wear to the party 
to-morrow night," broke from the gay lips of the lively Xellie. 

In this strain I've many times heard them talk, but it always 
wound up with a smile at the suggestion of the volatile Miss 
NeUie. 

* 

When I had been there but two days, I began to suspect Mrs. 



MORTIFICATION. 



345 



Smithes disposition, for she several times declared her opinion 
that niggers had no business with company, and that her's 
shouldn't have any. This was a damper to my hopes, for my 

chief motive for wishing to be sold in L was the pleasure I 

expected to derive from Henry's society. Every night, as early 
as eight, the servants were ordered to their respective quarters, 
and, as I slept in the house, a stolen interview with him would 
have been impossible, as Mrs. Smith was too alert for me to 
make an unobserved exit. On the second evening of my sojourn 
there, Henry called to see me about half-past seven o'clock ; 
and, just as I was beginning to yield myself up to pleasure, Mrs. 
Smith came to the kitchen, and, seeing him there, asked, 

" Whose negro is this ?" 
Henry Graham is my name, Missis," was the reply. 

** Well, what business have you here V 

Henry was embarrassed ; he hung his head, and, after a mo- 
ment, faltered out, 

" I came to see Ann, Missis.'' 
" Where do you belong ?" 

" I belong to Mr. Graham, but am hired to the G 

House.^' 

" Well, then, go right there ; and, if ever I catch you in my 
kitchen again, I'll send your master word, and have you well 
flogged. I don't allow negro men to come to see my servants. 
I want them to have no false notions put into their heads. A 
nigger has no business visiting ; let him stay at home and do his 
master's work. I shouldn't be surprised if I missed something 
out of the kitchen, and if I do, I shall know that you stole it, 
and you shall be whipped for it ; so shall Ann, for daring to 
bring strange niggers into my kitchen. Xow, clear yourself, 
man." 

With an humbled, mortified air, Henry took his leave. A 
thousand scorpions were writhing in my breast. That he, my 
love, so honest, noble, honorable, and gentlemanly in all his 
feelings, should be so accused almost drove me to madness. I 
could not bear to have his pride so bowed and his dearly-cher- 
15^ 



346 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



islied principles outraged. From that day I entertained no kind 
feeling for Mrs. Smith. 

On another occasion, a Saturday afternoon, when Louise came 
to sit a few moments with me, she heard of it, and, rushing 
down stairs, ordered her to leave on the instant, adding that her 
great abomination was free niggers, and she wouldn^t have 
them lurking round her kitchen, corrupting her servants, and, 
perhaps, purloining everything within their reach. 

Louise was naturalh^ of a quick and passionate disposition ; 
and, to be thus wantonly and harshly treated, was more than 
she could bear. So she furiously broke forth, and such a scene 
as occurred between them was disgraceful to humanity ! Miss 
Adele hearing the noise instantly came out, and in a positive 
toue ordered Louise to leave ; which order was obeyed. After 
hearing from her mother a correct statement of the case, Miss 
Adele burst into tears and went to her room I afterward heard 
her kindly remonstrating with her miother upon the injustice of 
such a course of conduct toward her servants. But Mrs. Smith 
was confirmed in her notions. They had been instilled into her 
early in life ; had grown with her growth and strengthened 
with her years. So it was not possible for her young and phi- 
lanthropic daughter to remove them. Once, when Miss Adele 
was quite sick, and after I had been nursing her indefatigably 
for some time, she said to me, 

Ann, you have told me the story of your love. I have 
been thinking of Henry, and pitying his condition, and trying 
to devise some way for you to see him." 

Thank you. Miss Adele, you are very kind.'^ 

" The plan I have resolved upon is this : I will pretend to 
send you out of evenings on errands for me ; you can have an 
understanding with Henry, and meet at some certain point ; 
then take a walk or go to a friend's ; but always be careful to 
get home before ten o'clock.'^ 

This was kindness indeed, and I felt the grateful tears gather- 
ing in my eyes ! I could not speak, but knelt down beside the 
bed, and reverently kissed the hem of her robe. Goodness such 



THE LOVE-MEETIXG. 



347 



as hers, charity and love to all, elicited almost my verj- 
worship ! 

I remember the first evening that I carried this scheme into 
effect. She was sitting in a large arm-chair, carefully wrapped 
up in the folds of an elegant velvet rohe-de-chamhre. Her 
mother, sister, and cousin were beside her, all engaged in a 
cheerful conversation, when she called me to her, and pretended 
to give me some errand to attend to out in the city, telling me 
^pointedly that it would require my attention until near ten 
o'clock. How like a lovely earth-angel appeared she then I 

I had previously apprized Henry of the arrangement, and 
named a point of meeting. Upon reaching it, I found him 
already waiting for me. We took a long stroll through the 
lamp-lit streets, talking of the blessed hopes that struggled in 
our bosoms ; of the faint divinings of the future ; told over the 
story of past sufferings, and renewed olden vows of devotion. 

He, with the most lover-like fondness, had brought me some 
little gift ; for this I kindly reproved him, saying that all his 
money should be appropriated to himself, that, by observing a 
rigid economy, we but hastened on the glorious day of release 
from bondage. Before ten I was at home, and waiting beside 
Miss Adele. How kindly she asked me if I had enjoyed my- 
self ; and with what pride I told her of the joy that her kind- 
ness had afforded me ! Surely the sweet smile that played so 
luminously over her fair face was a reflex of the peace that 
irradiated her soul ! How beautifully she illustrated, in her 
single life, the holy ministrations of true womanhood ! Did she 
not, with kind words and generous acts, ^' strive to bind up the 
bruised, broken heart." At the very mention of her name, aye, 
at the thought of her even, I never fail to invoke a blessing 
upon her life 1 

Thus, for weeks and montLs, through her ingenuity, I saw 
Henry and Louise frequently. Otherwise, how dull and dreary 
would have seemed to rne that long, cold winter, with ita 
heaped snowrbanks, its dull, gray sky, its faint, chill sun, and 
leafless trees ; but the sunbeam of her kindness made the sea- 
eon bright, warm, and grateful ! 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 



THE NEW ASSOCIATES — DEPRAVED VIEWS ELSV'S MISTAKE 

DEPARTURE OF THE YOUNG LADIES — LONELINESS. 

In Mr. Smith's family of servants was Emily, the cook, a 
sagacious woman, but totally without education, knowledge, or 
the peculiar ambition that leads to its acquisition. She was a 
bold, raw, unthinking spirit ; and, from the fact that she had 
been kept closely confined to the house, never allowed any 
social pleasure, she resolved to be revenged, and unfortunately 
in her desire for spite (as she termed it), had sacrificed her 
character, and was the mother of two children, with unac- 
knowledged fathers. Possessed of a violent temper, she would, 
at periods, rave like a mad-woman ; and only the severest lash- 
ing could bring her into subjection. She was my particular 
terror. Her two children, half-bloods, were little, sick, weasly 
things that excited the compassion of all beholders, and though 
two years of age (twins), were, from some physical derange- 
ment, unable to walk. 

There was also a man servant, Duke, who attended to odd 
ends of housework, and served in the capacity of decorated 
carriage-driver, and a girl, Elsy, a raw, green, country concern, 
good-natured and foolish, with a face as black as tar. They had 
hired her from a man in the country, and she being quite de- 
lighted with town and the ofi'-cast finery of the ladies, was as 
happy as slit could be — yet the mistakes she constantly made 
were truly amusing. She had formed quite an attachment for 
Duke, which he did not in the slightest degree return ; yet, 
with none of the bashfulness of her sex, she confessed to the 
feeling, and declared that Duke was very mean not to love 

[34S1 



elsy's views of study. 



349 



her a little.'' Tliis never failed to excite the derision of the 
more sprightly Emily. 

W6ll, you is a fool," she would exclaim, with an odd shake 
of the head. 

" I loves him, and don't kere who knows it/' 

" Does he love you ?" asked Emily. 

" Well, he doesn't.'' 

" Then Vd hate him,^^ replied Emily, as, with a great force, 
she brought her rolling-pin down on the table. 
" No, I wouldn't," answered the loving Elsy. 
^* You ain't worth shucks." 
Wish I was worth Duke.'' 
Hush, fool." 

" You needn't git mad, kase I don't think as you does." 

I is mad bekase you is a fool." 
" Who made me one ?" 

You was born it, I guess." 

Then I aren't to blame fur it. Them that made me is." 
Conversations like this were of frequent occurrence, and 
once, when I ventured to ask Elsy if she wouldn't like to learn 
to read, she laughed heartily, saying : 
Does you think I wants to run off ]" 
Certainly not." 
" Den why did you ax me if I wanted to larn to read ?" 
So you might have a higher source of enjoyment than you 
now have." 

Oh, yes, so as to try to git my freedom ! You is jist a spy 
fur de white folks, and wants to know if I'll run away. Go off, 
now, and mind yer own business, kase I has hearn my ole Mas- 
ser, in de country, say dat whenever niggers 'gan to read books 
dey was ob no 'count, and allers had freedom in dar heads." 

Finding her thus obstinate, I gave up all attempts to per- 
suade her, and left her to that mental obscuration in which I 
found her. Emily sometimes threatened to apply herself, with 
vigor, to the gaining of knowledge, and thus defeat and ''spite" 
her owners ; but knowledge so obtained, I think, would be of 



350 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



little avail, for, like religion, it must be sought after from higher 
motives — sought for itself only. 

I could find but little companionship with those around me, 
and lived more totally within myself than I had ever done. 
Many times have I gone to my room, and in silence wept over 
the isolation in which my days were spent ; but three niglits out 
of the seven were marked with white stones, for on these I held 
blissful re-unions with Henry. Our appointed spot for meeting 
was near an old pump, painted green, ^vhich was known as the 

green pump," a very favorite one, as the water, pure lime- 
stone, was supposed to be better, cooler, and stronger than that 
of others. Much has been written, by our popular authors, on 
the virtues and legends of old town pumps, but, to me, this one 
had a beauty, a charm, a glory which no other inanimate object 
in wide creation possessed ! And of a moonhght night, when I 
descried, at a distance, its friendly handle, outstretched like an 
arm of welcome, I have rushed up and grasped it with a right 
hearty good feeling ! Long time afterwards, when it had 
ceased to be a love-beacon to me, I never passed it without tak- 
ing a drink from its old, rusty ladle, and the water," like the 
friendly draught contained in the magic cup of eastern story, 
transported me over the waste of time to poetry and love ! 
Even here I pause to wipe away the fond, sad tears, which the 
recollection of that old green pump" calls up to my mind, and 
I should love to go back and stand beside it, and drink, aye 
deeply, of its fresh, cool water ! There are now many stately 
mansions in that growing city, that sits like a fairy queen upon 
the shore of the charmed Ohio ; but away from all its lofty 
structures and edifices of wealth, away from her public haunts, 
her galleries and halls, would I turn, to pay homage to the old 

green pump" ! 

Some quiet evenings, too, had I in Louise's room, listening 
to Henry sing, while he played upon his banjo. His voice was 
fine, full, and round, and rang out with the clearness of a bell. 
Though possessed of but slight cultivation, I considered it the 
finest one I ever heard. 



JTHE MISTAKE. 



351 



But again my pleasures were brought to a speedy close. As 
the winter began to grow more cold, and the city more dull, the 
young ladies began to talk of a jaunt to New Orleans. Their 
first determination was to carry me with them ; but, after calcu- 
lating the " cost," they concluded it was better to go without a 
servant, and render all necessary toilette services to each other. 
They had no false pride — thanks "to their Northern education for 
that ! 

Before their departure they gave quite a large dinner-party, 
served up in the most fantastic manner, consisting of six differ- 
ent courses. I officiated as waiter, assisted by Duke. Owing 
to the scarcity of servants in the family, Elsy was forced to 
attend the door, and render what assistance she could at the 
table. 

Whilst they were engaged on the fourth course, a violent 
ring was heard at the door-bell, which Elsy was bound to obey. 
In a few moments she returned, saying to one of the guests : 
" Miss Allfield, a lady wishes to speak with you.'^ 
With me V interrogated the lady. 
Yes, marm.'- 

" Who can she be ?" said Miss Allfield, in surprise. 
Bid the lady be seated in the parlor, and say that Miss All- 
field is at dinner," replied Mrs. Smith. 

** If the company will excuse me, I will attend to this unusual 
visitor," said Miss Allfield, as she rose to leave. 

It is a colored ladijy and she is waitin' fur you at the door," 
put in Elsy. 

The blank amazement that sat upon the face of each guest, 
may be better imagined than described ! Some of them were 
ready to go into convulsions of laughter. A moment of dead 
silence reigned around, when Miss Nellie set the example of a 
hearty laugh, in which all joined, except Mr. and Mrs. Smith, 
whose faces were black as a tempest-cloud. 

But there stood the offending Elsy, all unconscious of her 
guilt. When she first came to town, she had been in the habit 
of announcing company to the ladies as a man wants to see 



352 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FE^V^LE SLAVE. 



you," or a "vroman is in the parlor," and had, every time, been 
severely reprimanded, and told that she should say *''a lady or 
gentleman is in the parlor." And the poor, green creature, in 
her great regard for ears polite," did not know how to make 
the distinction between the races ; but most certainly was she 
taught it by the severe whipping that was administered to her 
afterwards by Mr. Smith. Xo intercession or entreaty from the 
ladies could be of any avail. Upon Elsy's bare back must the 
atonement be made ! After this public whipping, she was held 
somewhat in disgrace by the other servants. Duke gave her a 
very decided cut, and Emily, who had never liked her, was 
now lavish in her abuse and ill-treatment. She even struck the 
poor, offenceless creature many blows ; and from this there was 
no redemption, for she was in sad disrepute with Mr. and Mrs. 
Smith ; and, after the young ladies' departure, she had no friend 
at all, for I was too powerless to be of use to her. 

* * * * * « * 

The remainder of the winter was dull indeed. My inter- 
views with Henry had been discontinued ; and I never saw 
Louise. I had no time for reading. It was work, work, delve 
and drudge until my health sank under it. Mrs. Smith never 
allowed us any time on Sundays, and the idea of a negro's 
going to church was outrageous. 

"No," she replied, when I asked permission to attend church, 
" stay at home and do your work. What business have negroes 
going to church ? They don't understand anything about the 
sermon." 

Yery true, I thought, for the most of them ; but who is to 
blame for their ignorance ? If opportunities for improvement 
are not allowed them, assuredly they should not suffer for it. 

How dead and lifeless lay upon my spirit that dull, cold win- 
ter I The snow-storm was without : and ice was within. Con- 
stant fault-finding and ten thousand different forms of domestic 
persecution well-nigh crushed the life out of me. Then there 
was not one break of beauty in my over-cast sky ! No faint 



THE COMING OF MAY. 



353 



or struggling ray of liglit to illume the ice-bound circle that 
surrounded me ! 

But the return of spring began to inspire me with hope ; for 
then I expected the arrival of my unknown mistress. Henry 
and Louise both knew her, and they represented her as pos- 
sessed of very amiable and philanthropic views. How eagerly 
I watched for the coming of the May blossoms, for then she, too, 
vrould come, and I be released from torture ! How dull and 
drear seemed the howling month of March, and even the fitful, 
changeful April. Alternate smiles and tears were wearying to 
me, and sure I am, no school-girl elected queen of the virgin 
month, ever welcomed its advent with such delight as I ! 

With its first day came the young ladies. Right glad was I 
to see them. They returned blooming and bright as flowers, 
with the same gentle manners and kindly dispositions that they 
had carried away. 

Miss Nellie had many funny anecdotes to tell of what she had 
seen and heard ; really it was delightful to hear her talk in that 
mirth-provoking manner ! In her accounts of Southern dandy- 
isms and fopperies, she drew forth her father's freest applause. 

" Why, Nellie, you ought to write a book, you would beat 
Dickens,'^ he used to say ; but her more sober sister and cousin 
never failed to reprove her, though gently, for her raillery. 

Well, Elsy/* she cried, when she met that little-respected 
personage, Have any more * colored ladies ' called during our 
absence This was done in a kind, jocular way ; but the poor 
negro felt it keenly, and held her head down in mortification. 

* * * * # * 

At length the second week of the month of May arrived, and 
with it came my new mistress ! A messenger, no less a person 
than Henry, was despatched for me. The time for which I 
was hired at Mr. Smith's having expired two weeks previously, 
I hastily got myself ready, and Henry once again shouldered 
my trunk. 

With a feeling of delight, I said farewell to Mrs. Smith and 
the servants ; but when T bade the young ladies good-bye, I 



354 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



own to the weakness of shedding tears ! I tried to impress 
upon Miss Adele's mind the sentiment of love that I cherished 
for her, and I had the satisfaction of knowing that she was not 
too proud to feel an interest in me. 

All the way to the G House, Hemy was trying to cheer me 

up, and embolden me for the interview with Miss Nancy. I 
had been looking anxiously for the time of her arrival, and now 
I shrank from it. It was well for my presence of mind that 
Miss Jane and her husband had returned to their homestead, for 
I do not think that I could have breathed freely in the same 
house with them, even though their control over me had ceased. 

Arriving at the G House, I had not the courage to venture 

instantly into Miss Nancy's presence ; but sought refuge, for a 
few moments, in Louise's apartment, where she gave me a very 
cordial reception, and a delightful beverage compounded of 
blackberries. 



CHAPTEE XXXYII. 



THE NEW MISTRESS — HER KINDNESS OF DISPOSITION — A PRETTY 
HOME — AND LOVE-INTERVIEWS IN THE SUMMER DAYS. 

At last I contrived to screw my courage to the sticking- 
place/' and go to Miss Nancy's room. 

I paused at the closed door before knocking for admission. 
When I did knock, I heard a not unpleasant voice say — 

" Come in.'' 

The tone of that voice re-inspired me, and I boldly entered. 

There, resting upon the bed, was one of the sweetest and most 
benign faces that I e^er beheld. Age had touched it but to 
beautify. Serene and clear, from underneath the broad cap 
frill shoDe her mild gray eyes. The wide brow was calm and 
white as an ivory tablet, and the lip, like a faded rose-leaf, hinted 
the bright hue which it had worn in health. The cheek, like the 
lip, was blanched by the hand of disease. Ah,'^ she said, as 
with a slight cough she elevated herself upon the pillow, " it is 
you, Ann. You are a little tardy. I have been looking for 
you for the last half-hour." 

I have been in the house some time. Miss Nancy, but had 
not the courage to venture into your presence ; and yet I have 
been watching for your arrival with the greatest anxiety." 

" You must not be afraid of me, child, I am but a sorry in- 
valid, who will, I fear, often weary and overtax your patience ; 
but you must bear with me ; and, if you are faithful, I will re- 
ward you for it. Henry has told me that jou are pretty well 
educated, and have a pleasant voice for reading. This delights 
me much ; for your principal occupation will be to read to me.'^ 

Certainly this pleased me greatly, for I saw at once that I 

[355] 



356 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



was removed from the stultifying influences wliicli had so long 
been exercised over my mind. Xow I should find literary food 
to supply my craving. My eyes fairly sparkled, as I answered, 
This is what I have long desired. Miss Nancy ; and you 
have assigned to me the position I most covet.-' 

I am glad I have pleased you, child. It is my pleasure to 
gratify others. Our lives are short, at best, and he or she only 
lives truly who does the most good.'^ 

This was a style and manner of talk that charmed me. 
Beautiful example and type of womankind! I felt like doing 
reverence to her. 

She reached her thin hand out to help herself to a glass of 
water, that stood on a stand near by. I sprang forward to re- 
lieve her. 

^' Ah, thank you," she said, in a most bland tone ; I am very 
weak ; the slightest movement convinces me of the failure of 
my strength.'' 

I begged that she would not exert herself, but always call on 
me for everything that she needed. 

1 came here to serve you, and I assure you^ my dear Miss 
Nancy, I shall be most happy in doing it. Mine will, I believe, 
truly be a * labor of love.' '' 

Another sweet smile, with the gilded light of a sunbeam, 
broke over her calm, sweet face ! Bless her ! she and all of her 
class should be held as "blessed among women;'' for do they 
not walk with meek and reverent footsteps in the path of her, 
the great model and prototype of all the sex ? 

^- ^ ^ 

Wlien 1 had been with her but a few days, she informed me 
that, as soon as her health permitted, she intended being re- 
moved to her house on Walnut street. I was not particularly 
anxious for this ; lor my sojourn at the G house was per- 
fectly delightful My frequent intercourse with Henry and 
Louise, was a source of intense pleasure to me. I was allowed 
to pass the evenings with them. Truly were those hours dear and 
bright Uenry played upon his banjo, and sang to us the most 



A CONVERSATIOxN. 



357 



enrapturing songs, airs and glees; and Louise generally sup- 
plied us with cakes and lemonade ! How exquisite was my 
happiness, as there we sat upon the little balcony gazing at the 
Indiana shore, and talking of the time when Henry and I should 
be free. 

" How much remains to be paid to your master, Henry," 
asked Louise. 

I have paid all but three hundred and fifty ; one hundred 
of which I already have ; so, in point of fact, I lack only two 
hundred and fifty/' said Henry. 

" I am very anxious to leave here this fall. I wish to go to 
Montreal. Now, if you could make your arrangements to go 
on with me, I should be glad. I shall require the services and 
attentions of a man; and, if you have not realized the money 
by that time, I think I can lend it to you," returned Louise. 

A bright light shone in Henry's eye, as he returned his 
thanks ; but quickly the coming shadow banished that radiance 
of joy. 

*' But think of her,'' he said tenderly, laying his hand on my 
shoulder; " what can she do without us, or what should I be 
without her ?" 

Oh, think not of me, dearest, I have a good home, and am 
well cared for. Go, and as &oon as you can, make the money, 
and come back for me." 

Live years away from you ? Oh, no, no and he wound 
his arm around my waist, and, most naturally, my head rested 
upon his shoulder. Loud and heavy was his breathing, and I 
knew that a fierce struggle was raging in his breast. 

" I will never leave her, Louise,'' he at length replied. 
That tyrant, the law, may part us ; but, my free will and act 
— neverP 

Ah, well," added she, as she looked upon us, you will 
think better of this after you give it a little reflection. This is 
only love's delusion;" and, in her own quiet, sensible way, she 
turned the stream of conversation into another channel. 

I think now, with pleasure, of the lovely scenes I enjoyed 



358 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLVAE. 



on those evenings, with the fire-flies playing in the air ; and 
manv times have I thought how beautifully and truly they 
typify the illusiye glancings of hope, darting here and there 
with their fire-lit wings ; eluding our grasp, and sparkling e'en 
as they flit. 

A few weeks after my installation in the new office, my mis- 
tress, whose health had been improving tinder my nursing, 
began to get ready to moye to her sweet little cottage residence 
on Walnut street. I was not anxious for the chancre, uotwith- 
standing it gaye me many local advantages ; for I should be 
removed from Henry, and though I knew that I could see 
him often, yet the same roof would not cover us. But my life, 
hitherto, had been too dark and oppressed for me to pause 
and mourn over the "crumpled rose-leaf;" and so, with right 
hearty good will I set to work " packing Miss Kancy's trunk," 
and gathering up her little articles that had lain scattered about 
the room. 

An upholsterer had been sent out to get the house ready for 
ns. When we were on the eve of starting, Henry came to carry 
the luggage, and Miss Xancy paid him seventy -five cents, at 
which he took off his hat, made a low bow, and said, 

"Thank you. Missis." 

Miss Xancy was seated on the most comfortable cushion, and 
I directly opposite, fanning her, 

We drove up to the house, a neat little biick cottage, painted 
white, with green shutters, and a deep yard in front, thickly 
swarded, with a variety of flowers, and a few forest trees. 
Beautiful exotics, in rare plaster, and stone vases, stood about 
in the yard, and a fine cast-iron watch-dog slept upon the front 
steps. Passing through the broad hall, you had a fine view of 
the grounds beyond, which were handsomely decorated. The 
out-buildings were all neatly painted or white-washed. A 
thorough air of neatness presided over the place. On the right 
of the hall was the parlor, famished in the very perfection of 
taste and simplicity. 



A NEW HOUSE. 



359 



The carpet was of blue, bespeckled with yellow ; a sofa of 
blue brocatelle, chairs, and ottomans of the same material, 
were scattered about. A cabinet stood over in the left corner, 
filled with the collections and curiosities of many years* gath- 
ering, whilst the long blue curtains, with festoonings of lace, 
swept to the floor ! Adjoining the parlor was the dining-room, 
with its oaken walls, and cane-colored floor-cloth. Opposite to 
the parlor, and fronting the street, was Miss Nancy's room, with 
its French bedstead, lounge, bureau, bookcase, table, and all 
the et ceteras of comfort. Opening out from her room was a 
small apartment, just large enough to contain a bed, chair, and 
wardrobe, with a cheap little mirror overhanging a tasteful 
dresser, whereon were laid a comb, brush, soap, basin, pitcher, 
&c. This room had been prepared for me by my kind mistress. 
•Pointing it out, she said, 

" That, Ann, is your castled I could not restrain my tears. 
Heaven send me grace to prove my gratitude to you, kind 
Miss Nancy," I sobbed out. 

" Why, my poor girl, I deserve no thanks for the performance 
of my duty. You are a human being, my good, attentive nurse, 
and I am bound to consider your comfort or prove unworthy of 
my avowed principles." 

" This is so unlike what I have been used to. Miss Nancy, 
that it excites my wonder as well as gratitude." 

" I fear, poor child, that you have served in a school of rough 
experience ! You are so thoroughly disciplined, that, at times, 
you excite my keenest pity." 

Yes, ma'm, I have had all sorts of trouble. The only marvel 
is that I am not utterly brutalized." 

Some time you must tell me your history ; but not now, my 
nerves are too unquiet to listen to an account so harrowing as 1 
know your recital must be." 

As I adjusted the pillow and arranged the beautiful silk 
spread (her own manufacture), I observed that her eyes were 
filled with tears. I said nothing, but the sight of those tears 
served to soften many a painful recollection of former years. 



360 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



I am conscious, in writing these pages, that there will be few 
of my white readers who can enter fully into my feelings. It 
is impossible for them to know how deeply the slightest act of 
kindness impressed mt — how even a word or tone gently spoken 
called up all my thankfulness ! Those to whom kindness is 
common, a mere household article, Avhose ears are greeted morn- 
ing, noon and night, with loving sounds and kind tones, will 
deem this strange and exaggerated ; but, let them recollect that 
I was a slave — not a mere servant, but a perpetual slave, ac- 
cording to the abhorred code of Kentucky ; and their wonder 
will cease. 

The first night that I threw myself down on my bed to sleep 
(did I state that I had a bedstead — that I had actually what 
slaves deemed a great luxury — a high-iwst bedstead ?) I felt as 
proud as a queen. Henry had been to see me. I entertained 
him in a nice, clean, carpeted kitchen, until a few minutes of 
ten o'clock, when he left me ; for at that hour, by the city ordi- 
nance, he was obliged to be at home. 

What," I thought, have I now to desire? Like the weary 
dove sent out from the ark, I have at last found land, peace 
and safety. Here I can rest contentedly beneath the waving 
of the olive branches that guard the sacred portal of ho7ne ! 
Home ! home this truly was ! A home where the heart would 
always love to lurk ; and how blessed seemed the word to me, 
now that I comprehended its practical significance ! No more 
was it a fable, an expression merely used to adorn a song or round 
a verse ! 

That first night that I spent at home was not given up to 
sleep. No, I was too happy for that ! Through the long, mys- 
terious hours, I lay wakeful on my soft and pleasant pillow, 
weaving fairest fancies from the dim chaos of happy hopes. 
Adown the sloping vista of the future I descried nought but 
shade and flowers ! 

With my new mistress, I was more like a companion than a 
servant. My duties were light — merely to read to her, nurse 
her, and do her sewing ; and, as she had very little of the latter, 



DOMESTIC OCCUPATION, 



361 



I may as well set it down as the extras" of my business, rather 
than the business itself. 

I rose every morning, winter and summer, at five o'clock, and 
arranged Miss Nancy's room whilst she slept ; and, so accus- 
tomed had she become to my light tread, that she slept as 
soundly as though no one had been stirring. After this was 
done, I placed the family Bible upon a stand beside her bed ; 
then took my sewing and seated myself at the window, until 
she awoke. Then I assisted her in making her morning toilette, 
which was very simple; wheeled the easy chair near the bed, and 
helped her into it. After which she read a chapter from the holy 
book, followed by a beautiful, extemporaneous prayer, in which 
we were joined by Biddy, the Irish cook. After this, Miss 
Nancy's breakfast was brought in on a large silver tray, — a 
breakfast consisting of black tea, Graham bread, and mutton 
chop. In her appetite, as in her character, she was simple. 
After this was over, Biddy and I breakfasted in the kitchen. 
Our fare was scarcely so plain, for hearty constitutions made us 
averse to the abstemiousness of our mistress. We had hot 
coflfee, steaming steaks, omelettes and warm biscuits. 

^'Ali, but she is a love of a lady !" exclaimed Biddy, as she 
ate away heartily at these luxuries. " Where in this city would 
we find such a mistress, that allows the servants better fare than 
she takes herself? And then she never kapes me from church. 
I can attend the holy mass, and even go to vespers every Sun- 
day of my life. The Lord have her soul for it ! But she is as 
good as a canonized saint, if she is a Protestant !" 

Sometimes I used to repeat these conversations to Miss Nancy. 
They never failed to amuse her greatly. 

Poor Biddy,'^ she would say, in a quiet way, with a sweet 
smile, " ought to know that true religion is the same in all. It 
is not the being a member of a particular church, or believing 
certain dogmas of faith, that make us religious, heirs of God, 
and joint heirs with Christ. It is the living religion, not the 
simple believing of it, that constitutes us Christia7is, We must 
feel that all men are our brothers, and all women our sisters ; 
16 



362 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



for in the kingdom of Leaven there will be no distinction of 
race or color, and I see no reason why we should live differently 
here. The Saviour of the world associated with the humblest. 
His chosen twelve were the fishermen of Galilee. I want to 
live in constant preparation for death ; but, alas ! my weak en- 
deavor is but seldom crowned with success." 

How reverently I looked upon her at such times ! What a 
beautiful saint she was ! * 

One evening in the leafy month of June, when the intensity 
of summer begins to make itself felt, 1 took my little basket, 
filled with some ruiffling that I was embroidering for Miss Nancy's 
wrapper, and seated myself upon the little portico at the back 
of the house. I had been reading to her the greater portion 
of the day, and felt that it was pleasant to be left in an indo- 
lent, dreamy state of mind, that required no concentration of 
thought. As my fingers moved lazily along, I was humming 
an old air, that I had heard in far less happy days. Every- 
thing around me was so pleasant ! The setting sun was flinging 
floods of glory over the earth, and the young moon was out 
upon her new wing, softening and beautifying the scene. Afar 
off, the lull of pleasant waters and the music-roar of the falls 
sounded dreamily in my ear ! I laid my work down in the 
basket, and, with closed eyes, thought over the events and in- 
cidents of my past life of suffering ; and, as the dreary picture 
of my troubles at Mr. Peterkin's returned to my mind, and my 
subsequent imprisonment in the city, my trials at the pen," 
and then this my safe harbor and haven of rest, so strange the 
whole seemed, that I almost doubted the reality, and feared to 
open my eyes, lest the kindly, illusive dream should be broken 
forever. But no, it was no dream ; for, upon turning my head, I 
spied through the unclosed door of the dining-room the careful ar- 
rangement of the tea-table. There it stood, with its snowy cover, 
upon which were placed the fresh loaf of Graham bread, the roll of 
sweet butter, some parings of cheese, the glass bowl of fruit and 
pitcher of cream, together with the friendly tea-urn of bright 
silver, from which I, even J, had often been supplied with the 



A SUMMER EVENING. 3(53 

delightftil beverage. And then, stepping through the door, with 
a cahn smile on her face, was Miss IN'ancy herself I How beau- 
tifully she looked in her white, dimity wrapper, with the pretty 
blue girdle, and tiny lace cap ! She gazed out upon the yard, 
with the blooming roses, French pinks, and Colombines that 
grew in luxuriance. Stepping upon the sward, she gathered a 
handful of flowers, clipping them nicely from the bush with a 
pair of scissors, that she wore suspended by a chain to her side. 
Seeing me on the portico, she said, 

Ann, bring me my basket and thread here, and wheel my 
arm-chair out ; I wish to sit with you here." 

I obeyed her with pleasure, for I always liked to have her 
near me. She was so much more the friend than the mistress, 
that I never felt any reserve in her presence. All was love. 
As she took her seat in the arm-chair, I threw a shawl over her 
shoulders to protect her from any injurious influence of the even- 
ing air. She busied herself tying up the flowers ; and their 
arrangement of color, &c., with a view to effect, would have 
done credit to a florist. My admiration was so much excited, 
that I could not deny myself the pleasure of an expression of it. 

"Ah, yes,'^' she answered, " this was one of the amusements 
of my youth. Many a bouquet have I tied up in my dear old 
home.'^ 

I thought I detected a change in her color, and heard a sigh, 
as she said this. 

Of what State are you a native. Miss Nancy 

" Dear old Massachusetts," she answered, with a glow of en- 
thusiasm. 

It is the State, of all others in the Union, for which I have 
the most respect." 

'*Ah, well may you say that, poor girl," she replied, for its 
people treat your unfortunate race with more humanity than 
any of the others." 

I have read a great deal of their liberality and cultivation, 
of both mind and heart, which has excited my admiring interest. 
Then, too, I have known those born and reared beneath the 



364 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEIVIALE SLAVE. 



shadow of its wise and beneficent laws, and the better I knew 
them, the more did my admiration for the State increase. Now 
I feel that Massachusetts is doubly dear to me, since I have 
learned that it is your birth-place." 

She did not say anything, but her mild eyes were suffused 
with tears. 

Just as I was about to speak to her of Mr. Trueman, Biddy 
came to announce tea, and, after that, Miss Nancy desired to be 
left alone. As was his custom, with eight o'clock came Henry. 
We sat out on the portico, with the moonlight shining over us, 
and talked of the future ! I told him what Miss Nancy said of 
Massachusetts, and, I believe, he was seized with the idea of 
going thither after purchasing himself. 

He was unusually cheerful. He had made a great deal in 
the last few months ; had grown to be quite a favorite with the 
keeper of the hotel, and was liberally paid for his Sunday and 
holiday labors, and, by errands for, and donations from, the 
boarders, had contrived to lay up a considerable sum. 

I hope, dearest, to be able soon to accomplish my freedom ; 
then I shall be read}^ to buy you. How much does Miss Nancy 
ask for you ?" 

Oh, Henry, I cannot leave her, even if I were able to pay 
down every cent that she demands for me. I should dislike to 
go away from her. She is so kind and good ; has been such a 
friend to me that I could not desert her. Who would nurse 
her ? Who would feel the same interest in her that I do ? No, 
I will stay with her as long as she lives, and do all I can to 
prove my gratitude." 

What do you mean, Ann ? Would you refuse to make me 
happy 1 Miss Nancy has other friends who would wait upon 
her." 

" But, Henry, that does not release me from my obligation. 
When she was on the eve of starting upon a journey, you went 
to her with the story of my danger. She promptly consented to 
buy me without even seeing me. I was not purchased as an arti- 
cle of property ; with the noble liberality of a philanthropist, 



A SURPRISE. 



365 



she ransomed, at a heavy price, a suffering sister, and shall I 
be such an ingrate as to leave her? No, she and Mr. Trueman 
of Boston, are the two beings whom I would willingly serve for- 
ever." 

Just then a deep sigh burst from the full heart of some one, 
and I thought I heard a retreating footstep. 
Who can that have been asked Henry. 

We examined the hall, the dining-room, my apartment ; and 
T knocked at Miss Nancy's door, but, receiving no answer, I 
judged she was asleep. 

It was but one of those peculiar voices of the night, whicli 
are the better heard from this intense silence," said Henry, and, 
finding that my alarm was quieted, he bade me an affectionate 
good-night, and so we parted. 



CHAPTEE XXXYIII. 



AN AWFUL REVELATION — MORE CLOUDS TO DARKEN THE SUN 
OF LIFE — SICKNESS AND BLESSED INSENSIBILITY. 

I SLEPT uninterruptedly that night, and, on awaking in the 
morning, I was surprised to find it ten minutes past five. Hur- 
rying on my clothes, I went to Miss Nancy's apartment, and 
was much surprised to find her sitting in her easy chair, her 
toilette made. Looking up from the Bible, which lay open on 
the stand before her, she said, 

I have stolen a march, Ann, and have risen before you/' 
Yes, ma'm," replied I, in a mortified tone, I am ten min- 
utes behind the time ; I am very sorry, and hope you will ex- 
cuse me." 

" No apologies, now ; I hope you do not take me for a cruel, 
exacting task-mistress, who requires every inch of your time." 

No, indeed, 1 do not, for I know you to be the kindest mis- 
tress find best friend in the world." 

'*And now, Ann, I will read some from the Lamentations 
of Jeremiah ; and we will unite in family prayer." 

At the ringing of the little bell Biddy quickly appeared, 
and we seated ourselves near Miss Nancy, and listened to her 
beautiful voice as it broke forth in the plaintive eloquence of 
the holy prophet ! 

Let us pray," she said, fervently, extending her thin, white 
hands upward, and we all sank upon our knees. She prayed 
for grace to rest on the household ; for its extension over the 
world ; that it might visit the dark land of the South ; that the 
blood of Christ might soften the hearts of slave-holders. She 
asked, in a special manner, for power to carry out her good in- 
tentions ; prayed that the blessing of God might be given to 
me, in a particular manner, to enable me to meet the trials of 
life, and invoked benedictions upon Biddy. 

[866] 



SWEET HOPES. 



3G7 



When we rose, botli Biddy and I were weeping ; and as 
we left her, Biddy broke forth in all her Irish enthusiasm, The 
Lord love her heart ! hut she is sanctified ! I never heard a 
prettier grayer said in the Cathedral /" 

* # * 'X- ^ 

Miss Nancy^s health improved a great deal. She began to 
walk of evenings through the yard, and a little in the city. I 
always attended her. Of mornings we rode in a carriage that 
she hired for the occasion, and of evenings Henry came, and 
always brought with him his banjo. 

One evening he and Louise came round to sit with me, and 
after we had been out upon the portico listening to Henry's 
songs. Miss Nancy bade me go to the sideboard and get some 
cake and wine. Placing it on the table in the .dining-room, I 
invited them, in Miss Nancy's name, to come in and partake of 
it. After proposing the health of my kind Mistress, to which 
we all drank, Biddy joining in, Louise pledged a glass to the 
speedy ransom of Henr}^ Just then Miss Nancy entered, say- 
ing : 

My good Henry, when you buy yourself, and find a home 
in the North, write us word where you have established your- 
self, and I will imm.ediately make out Ann's free papers, and 
remove thither; but I cannot think of losing my good nurse. So, 
for her's, your's and my own convenience, I will take up my 
residence wherever you may settle. Stop now, Ann, no thanks ; 
I know all about your gratitude, for I was a pleased, though 
unintentional listener to a conversation between yourself and 
Henry, in which I found out how deep is your attachment to 
me." 

Hers, then, was the sigh which had so alarmed me ! It was 
all explained. I had no words to express my overflowing heart. 
My whole soul seemed melted. Henry's eyes were filled with 
grateful tears. He sank upon his knees and kissed the hem of 
Miss Nancy's dress. 

"No, no, my brave-hearted man, do not kneel to me. I am 
but the humble instrument under Heaven ; and, oh, how often 



368 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



have I prayed for sncli an opportunity as this to do good, and 
dispense happiness." 

And so saying she glided out of the room. 

" Well/' exclaimed Biddy, she is more than a saint, she is 
an angel,*' and she wiped the tears from her honest eyes. 

I have known her for some time," said Louise, " and never 
saw her do, or heard of her doing a wrong action. She is very 
different from her brother. Does he come here often, Ann ?" 

" Not often ; about once a fortnight." 
He is too much taken up with business ; hasn't a thought 
outside of his countinsr-room. He doesn't share in anv of her 
philanthropic ideas." 

She hasn't her equal on earth,'' added Henry. Mr. Mood- 
well is a good man, though not good enough to be her brother." 

Thus passed away the evening, until the near approach of 
ten o^clock warned them to leave. 

I was too happy for sleep. Many a wakeful night had I 

passed from unhappiness, but now I was sleepless from joy. 
* * * ^ * * * 

The next morning, after Miss Xancy had breakfasted, I a^ked 
her what I should read to her. 

" Nothing this morning, Ann. I had rather you would talk 
with me. Let us arrange for the future ; but first tell me how 
much money does Henry lack to buy himself ?" 
About one hundred dollars.^' 
I think I can help him to make that up.'' 

" You have already done enough, dear Miss Nancy. We 
could not ask more of you." 

No, but I am anxious to do all I can for you, my good girl. 
You are losing the greenest part of your lives. I feel that it is 
wrong for you to remain thus.'^ 

Seeing that I was in an unusually calm mood, she asked me to 
tell her the story of my life, or at least the main incidents. I 
entered upon the narrative with the same fidelity that I have 
observed in writing these memoirs. At many points and scenes 
I observed her weeping bitterly. Fearing that the excitement 



THE FRIGHT. 



369 



inight prove too great for her strength, I several times urged 
her to let me stop; but she begged me to go on without heed- 
ing her, for she was deeply interested. 

When I came to the account of my meeting with Mr. True- 
man, she bent eagerly forward, and asked if it was Justinian 
Trueman, of Boston. Upon my answering in the affirmative, 
she exclaimed : 

How like him ! The same noble, generous, disinterested 
spirit !" 

Do you know him. Miss Nancy ?" 

Oh yes, child, he is one of our prominent Northern men, a 
very able lawyer ; every one in the State of Massachusetts 
knows him by reputation, but I have a personal acquaintance 
also.'' 

Just as I was about to ask hev something of Mr. Trueman's 
history, Biddy came running in, exclaiming : 

Oh, dear me ! Miss Nancy ! what do you think ? They say 
that Mr. Barkoff, the green grocer, has let his wife w^hip a 
colored woman to death.'' 

Oh, it can't be true," cried Miss Nancy, as she started up 
from her chair. It is, I trust, some slanderous piece of 
gossip.'' 

*^ Oh, the Lord love your saintly heart, but I do believe 'tis 
true, for, as I went down the street to market, I heard some 
awful screaming in there, and I asked a girl, standing on the 
pavement, what it meant ; and she said Mrs. Barkoff was 
whipping a colored woman ; then, when I came back there was 
a crowd of children and colored people round the back gate, and 
one of them told me the woman was dead, and that she died 
shouting." 

*^ Oh, God, how fearful is this !" exclaimed Miss Nancy, as 
the big tears rolled down her pale cheeks. " Give me, oh, 
sweet Jesus, the power to pray as Thou didst, to the Eter- 
nal Father, * to forgive them, for they know not what they 
do!'" 

** Come, Ann," continued the impetuous Biddy, you go with 
16* 



370 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



me, and we'll try to find out all about it. We will go to see 
the woman.-' 

I cannot leave Miss Nancy." 
" Yes, go with her, Ann ; but don't allow her to say anything 
imprudent. Poor Biddy has such a good, philanthropic heart, 
that she forgets the patient spirit which Christianity incul- 
cates. 

"With a strange kind of awe, I followed Biddy through the 
streets, scarcely heeding her impassioned garrulity. The blood 
seemed freezing in my veins, and my teeth chattered as though 
it had been the depth of winter. As we drew near the place, I 
knew the house by the crowd that had gathered around the 
back and side gates. 

*' Let us enter here," said Biddy, as she placed her hand upon 
the heavy plank gate at tlie back of the lot. 

Stop, Biddy, stop," I gasped out, as I held on to the gate 
for support, I feel that I shall suffocate. Give me one mo- 
ment to get my breath.'' 

Oh, Ann, you are only frightened," and she led me into 
the yard, where we found about a dozen persons, mostly 
colored. 

Where is the woman that's been kilt inquired Biddy, 
of a mulatto girl. 

" She ain't quite dead. Pity she isn't out of her misery, poor 
soul," said the mulatto girl. 

" But where is she ?" demanded Biddy. 

*' Oh, in thar, the first room in the basement," and, half-led 
by Biddy, I passed in through a mean, damp, musty basement. 
The noxious atmosphere almost stifled us. Turning to the left 
as directed, we entered a low, comfortless room, with brick 
walls and floor. Upon a pile of straw, in this wretched place, 
lay a bleeding, torn, mangled body, with scarcely life in it. 
Two colored women were bathing the wounds and wrapping 
greased cloths round the body. I listened to her pitiful groans, 
until I thought my forbearance would fail me. 

Poor soul !" said one of the colored women, she has had 



A HORRIBLE MURDER. 



371 



a miglity bad convulsion. I wisli she could die and be sot free 
from misery." 

" Wliar is de white folks asked another. 

" Oh, dey is skeered, an' done run off an' hid up stairs." 

" Who done it V 
Why, Miss Barkoff; she put Aunt Kaisy to clean de harth, 
an' you see, de poor ole critter had a broken arm. De white 
folks broke it once when dey was beatin' of her, and so she 
couldn't work fast. Well den, too, she'd been right sick for 
long time. You see she was right sickly like, an' when Miss 
Barkoff come back — she'd only bin gone a little while — an' 
see'd dat de harth wasn't done, she fell to beatin' of de poor 
ole sick critter, an' den bekase she cried an' hollered, she tuck 
her into de coal-house, gagged her mouth, tied her hands an' 
feet, an' fell to beatin' of her, an' she beat her till she got tired, 
den ole Barkoff beat her till he got satisfied. Den some colored 
person seed him, an' tole him dat he better stop, for Aunt Kaisy 
was most gone." 

Yes, 'twas me," said the other woman, I w^as passin' 'long 
at de back of de lot, an' I hearn a mighty quare noise, so I jist 
looked through the erack, an' there I seed him a beatin' of 
her, an' I hollered to him to stop, for de Lor' sake, or she 
would die right dar. Den he got skeered an' run off in de 
house." 

The narration was here interrupted by a fearful groan from 
the sufferer. One of the women very gently turned her over, 
with her face full toward me. 

Oh, God have mercy on me ! In those worn, bruised^ 
anguish-marked features, in the glance of that failing, filmy 
eye, I recognized my long-lost mother ! With one loud shriek 
I fell down beside her! After years of bitter separation, thus 
to meet ! Oh that the recollection had faded from my mind, 
but no, that awful sight is ever before my eyes ! I see her, 
even now, as there she lay bleeding to death ! Oh that I had 
been spared the knowledge of it ! 

There was the same mark upon the brow, and, I suppose, 



372 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



more by that than tlie remembered features, was I eDabled to 
indentify her. 

My fi'antic screams soon drew a crowd of persons to the 
room. 

3It mother, my dear, suffering mother, unclosed her eyes, 
and, by that peculiar mesmerism belonging to all mothers, she 
knew it was her child whose arms were around her. 
Ann, is it you ?" she asked feebly. 
Yes, mother, it is I ; but, oh, how do I find you 
Xever mind me, child, I feel that I shall soon be at peace ! 
'Tis for you that I am anxious. Have you a good home 
Yes ; oh, that you had had such 

** Thank Cxod for that. You are a woman now, I think; but 
I am growing blind, or it is getting dark so fast that I cannot 
see you. Here, here, hold me Ann, child, hold me close to 
you, I am going through the floor, sinking, sinking down. 
Catch me, catch me, hold nie ! It is dark ; I can't see yon, 
where, where are you ?" 

Here, mother, here, I am close to you." 

*^ Where, child, I cant see you; here catch me;" and, sud- 
denly springing up as if to grasp something, she fell back upon 
the straw a corpse ! 

After such a separation, this was our meeting — and parting ! 
I had hoped that life's bitterest drop had been tasted, but this 
was as *• vinegar upon nitre. 

When I became conscious that the last spark of life was 
extinct in that beloved body, I gave myself up to the most 
delirious grief As I looked upon that homd, ghastly, mangled 
form, and thought it was my mother, who had been butchered 
by the whites, my very blood was turned to gall, and in this 
chaos of mind I lost the faculty of reason. 

* *'* * :j« * * * 

When my consciousness returned I was lying on a bed in 
my room, the bUnds of which were closed, and Miss Nancy was 
seated beside me, rubbing my hands with camphor. As I opened 
my eyes, they met her kind glance fixed earnestly upon me. 



RETURNING CONSCIOUSNESS. 



373 



"You are better, Ann," slie said, in a low, gentle voice. I 
was too languid to reply ; but closed my eyes again, with a 
faint smile. When I once more opened them I was alone, and 
through one shutter that had blown open, a bright ray of sun- 
light stole, and revealed to me the care and taste with which 
my room had been arranged. Fresh flowers in neat little vases 
adorned the mantel ; and the cage, containing Miss Nancy's 
favorite canary, had been removed to my room. The music 
of this delightful songster broke gratefully upon my slowly 
awakening faculties. I rose from the becT, and seated myself 
in the large arm-chair. Passing my hand across my eyes, I 
attempted to recall the painful incidents of the last few days ; 
and as that wretched death-bed rose upon my memory, the 
scalding tears rushed to my eyes, and I wept long, long, as 
though my head were turned to waters ! 

Miss Nancy entered, and finding me in tears she said nothing; 
but turned and left the room. Shortly after, Biddy appeared 
with some nourishment, 

" Laws, Ann, but you have been dreadfully sick. You had 
fever, and talked out of your head. Henry was here every 
evening. He said that once afore, when you took the fevers, 
you was out of your head, just the same way. He brought you 
flowers ; there they are in the vase,'^ and she handed me two 
beautiful bouquets. 

In this pleasant way she talked on until I had satisfied the 
cravings of an. empty stomach with the niceties she had brought 
me. 

That evening Henry came, and remained with me about 
half an hour. Miss Nancy warned him that it Avas not well to 
excite me much. So with considerable reluctance he shortened 
his visit. 



CHAPTER XXXVIX. 



GRADUAL RETURN Of HAPPY SPIRITS — BRIGHTER PROSPECTS — 
AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 

When I began to gain strength Miss Nancy took me out in 
a carriage of evenings ; and had it not been for the melancholy 
recollections that hung like a pall around my heart, life would 
have been beautiful to me. As we drove slowly through the 
brightly-lighted streets, and looked in at the gaudy and flaunting 
windows, where the gayest and most elegant articles of mer- 
chandise were exhibited, I remarked to Miss Xancy, with a 
sigh, Life might be made a very gay and cheerful thing — 
almost a pleasure, were it not for the wickedness of men.'' 

Ah, yes, it might, indeed,'^ she replied, and the big tears 
rested upon her eyelids. 

One evening when w^e had returned from a drive, I noticed 
that she ate very little supper, and her hand trembled violently. 
" You are sick, Miss Nancy I said. 
Yes, Ann, I feel strangely," she replied. 
To-morrow you must go for my brother, and I will have a 
lawyer to draw up my will. It would be dreadful if I were to 
die suddenly without making a provision for you ; then the 
bonds of slavery would be riveted upon you, for by law you 
would pass into my brother's possession." 

Don't trouble yourself about it now, dear Miss Xancy," I 
said ; " your life is more precious than my liberty." 

Xot so, my good girl. The dawn of your life was dark, I 
hope that the close may be bright. The beginning of mine 

[874] 



CONSOLIIVG FlUENDS. 



375 



was full of flowers ; tlie close will be serene, I trust ; but ah, 
IVe outlived many a blessed hope that was a very rainbow in 
my dreaming years." 

I had always thought Miss Nancy's early life had been filled 
with trouble ; else why and whence her strange, subdued, mel- 
ancholy nature ! How much I would have given had she told 
me her history ; yet I would not add to her sadness by asking 
her to tell me of it. 

The next morning I went for Mr. Moodwell, who, at Miss 
Nancy's instance, summoned a notary. The will was drawn up 
and witnessed by two competent persons. 

After this she began to improve rapidly. Her strength of 
body and cheerfulness returned. About this time my peace of 
mind began to be restored. Of my poor mother I never spoke, 
after hearing the particulars that followed her death. She was 
hurriedly buried, without psalm or sermon. No notice was 
taken by the citizens of her murder — why should .there be ? 
She was but a poor slave, grown old and gray in the service of 
the white man ; and if her master chose to whip her to death, 
who had a right to gainsay him ? She was his property to 
have and to hold; to use or to kill, as he thought best ! 

Give us no more Fourth of July celebrations ; the rather let 
us have a Venetian oligarchy ! 

Miss Nancy, in her kind, persuasive manner, soon lured my 
thoughts away from such gloomy contemplations. She sought 
to point out the pleasant, easy pathway of wisdom and religion, 
and I thank her now for the good lessons she then taught me ! 
Beneath such influence I gradually grew reconciled to my 
troubles. Miss Nancy fervently prayed that the}^ might be 
sanctified to my eternal good ; and so may they ! 

Louise came often to see me, and I found her then as now, 
the kindest and most willing friend ; everything that she could 
do to please me she did. She brought me many gifts of books, 
flowers, fruits, &c. I may have been petulant and selfish in my 
grief ; but those generous friends bore patiently with me. 

Pleasant walks I used to take with Henry of evenings, and 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



he was then so full of hope, for he had almost realized the sum 
of money that his master required of him. 

Master will be down early in September," he said, as we 
strolled along one evening in August, and I think by borrow- 
ing a little from Miss Nancy, I shall be able to pay down all 
that I owe him, and then, dearest, I shall be free — free ! only 
think of it ! Of me being a free man, master of myself / and 
when we go to the North we will be married, and both of us 
will live with Miss Nancy, and guard her declining days." 

Happy tears were shining in his bright eyes, like dew-pearls ; 
but, with a strong, manly hand he dashed them away, and I 
clung the fonder to that arm, that I hoped would soon be able 
to protect me. 

There is one foolish little matter, dearest, that I will men- 
tion, more to excite your merriment, than fear," said Henry 
with an odd smile. 

What is it ?" 

Well, promise me not to care about it ; only let it give you 
a good laugh.'' 

Yes, I promise." 

Well," and he paused for a moment, there is a girl living 

near the G House. She belongs to Mr. Bodley, and has 

taken a foolish fancy to me ; has actually made advances, even 
more than advances, actual offers of love ! She says she used 
to know you, and, on one occasion, attempted to speak discredit- 
ably of you ; though I quickly gave her to understand that I 
would not listen to it. Why do you tremble so, Ann 

And truly I trembled so violently, that if it had not been for 
the support that his arm afforded me, I should have fallen to 
the ground. 

What is her name ]" I asked. 

** Melinda, and says she once belonged to Mr. Peterkin.' 

*' Yes, she did. We used to call her Lindy." 

I then told him what an evil spirit she had been in my pathj 
and ventured to utter a suspicion that her work of harm was 
yet unfinished, that she meant me further injury. 



PLEASANT TIMES. 



377 



I know her now, dearest. You have unmasked her, and, 
with me, she can have no possible power. 

I seemed to be satisfied, though in reality I was not, for ap- 
prehension of an indefinable something troubled me sorely. 
The next day Miss Nancy observed my troubled abstraction, 
and inquired the cause, with so much earnestness, that I could 
not withhold my confidence, and gave her a full account. 
And you think she will do you an injury ?" 
" I fear so." 

" But have you not forestalled that by telling Henry who she 
is, and how she has acted toward you ?" 

Yes, ma^m, and have been assured by him that she can do 
me no harm ; but the dread remains.'' 

Oh, you are in a weak, nervous state ; I am astonished at 
Henry for telling you such a thing at this time." 

He thought, ma'm, that it would amuse me, as a fine joke ; 
and so I supposed I should have enjoyed it." 

She did all she could to divert my thoughts, made Henry 
bring his banjo, and play for me of evenings ; bought pleasant 
romances for me to read ; ordered a carriage for a daily ride ; 
purchased me many pretty articles of apparel ; but, most of all, 
I appreciated her kind and cheerful talk, in which she strove to 
beguile me from everything gloomy or sad. 

Once she sent me down to spend the day with Louise at the 
G House. There was quite a crowd at the hotel. South- 
erners, who had come up to pass their summer at the watering- 
places in Kentucky, had stopped here, and, finding comfortable 
lodgment, preferred it to the springs; then there were many 

others travelling to the North and East via L- , who were 

stopping there. This increased Henry's duties, so that I saw 
him but seldom during the day.. Once or twice he came to 
Louise's room, and told me that he was unusually busy ; but 
that he had earned four dollars that day, from different persons, 
in small change, and that he would be able to make his final 
payment the next month. 

All this was very encouraging, and I was in unusually fine 



378 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



spirits. As Louise and I sat talking in the afternoon, she re- 
marked — 

Well, Ann, early next month Henry will make his last pay- 
ment ; and we have concluded to go Xorth the latter part of 
the same month. When will Miss Nancy be ready to go ]" 

" Oh, she can make her arrangements to start at the same time. 
I will speak to her about it this evening." 

And then, as we sat planning about a point of location, a 
shadow darkened the door. I looked up — and, after a long 
separation, despite both natural and artificial changes, I re- 
cognized Lindy ! I let my sewing fall from my hands and 
gazed upon her with as much horror as if she had been an ap- 
parition 1 Louise spoke kindly to her, and asked her to walk in. 

''Why, how d'ye do, Ann? I hearn you was livin' in de 
city, and intended to come an' see you." 

I stammered out something, and she seated herself near me, 
and began to revive old recollections. 

They are not pleasant, Lindy, and I would rather they 
should be forgotten." 

Laws, Ps got a very good home now ; but I 'tends to marry 
some man that will buy me, and set me free ! Xow, I's got 
my eye sot on Henry." 

I trembled violently, but did not trust myself to speak 
Louise, however, in a quick tone, replied : 

He is engaged, and soon to be married to Ann." 

" Laws ! I doesn't b'lieve it ; Ann shan't take him from me." 

Though this was said playfully, it was easy for me to detect, 
beneath the seeming levity, a strong determination, on her part, 
to do her very worst. No wonder that I trembled before her, 
when I remembered how powerful an enemy she had been in 
former times. 

With a few other remarks she left, and Louise observed : 
That Lindy is a queer girl. With all her ignorance and 
ugliness, she excites my dread when I am in her presence — a 
dread of a supposed and envenomed power, such as the black 
cat possesses." 



CHILDHOOD OF THE GOOD. 



379 



Such lias ever been the feeling, Louise, that she has excited 
in me. She has done me harm heretofore ; and do you know, 
I think she means me ill now. I have uttered this suspicion 
to Henry and Miss Nancy, but they both laughed it to scorn — 
saying site was powerless to injure rm ; but still my fear re- 
mains, and, when I think of her, I grow sick at heart." 

Upon my return home that evening I told Miss Nancy of the 
meeting with Lindy, and of the conversation, but she attached 
no importance to it. 

No one living beneath the vine and fig-tree of Miss Nancy's 
planting, and sharing the calm blessedness of her smiles, could 
be long unhappy ! Her life, as well as words, was a proof that 
human nature is not all depraved. In thinking over the rare 
combination of virtues that her character set forth, I have mar- 
velled what must have been her childhood. Certainly she could 
never have possessed the usual waywardness of children. Her 
youth must have been an exception to the general rule. I can- 
not conceive her with the pettishness and proneness to quarrel, 
which we naturally expect in children. I love to think of her 
as a quiet little Miss, discarding the doll and play-house, turning 
quietly away from the frolicsome kitten — seeking the leafy 
shade of the New England forests — peering with a curious, 
thoughtful eye into the woodland dingle — or straining her gaze 
far up into the blue arch of heaven — or questioning, with a 
child's idle speculation, the whence and the whither of the mys- 
terious wind. 'Tis thus I have pictured her childhood ! She 
was a strange, gifted, unusual woman ; — who, then, can suppose 
that her infancy and youth were ordinary ? 

To this day her memory is gratefully cherished by hundreds. 
Many little pauper children have felt the kindness of her char- 
ity ; and those who are now independent remember the time 
when her bounty rescued them from want, and they rise up 
to call her blessed!" 

Often have I gone with her upon visits and errands of charity. 
Through many a dirty alley have those dainty feet threaded a 
dangerous way ; and up many a dizzy, dismal flight of ricketty 



380 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



steps have I seen them ascend, and never heard a petulant 
word, or saw a haughty look upon her face ! She never went 
upon missions of charity in a carriage, or, if she was too weak 
to walk all the way, she discharged the vehicle before she got 
in sight of the hovel. " Let us not be ostentatious," she would 
say, when I interposed an objection to her taking so long a 
walk. Besides," she added, *'let us give no offence to these 
suffering poor ones. Let them think we come as sisters to re- 
lieve them ; not as Dives, flinging to Lazarus tlie crumbs of 
our bounty !" 

Beautiful Christian soul ! baptized with the fire of the Holy 
Ghost, endowed with the same saintly spirit that rendered 
lovely the life of her whom the Saviour called Mother ! thou 
art with the Blessed now ! After a life of earnest, godly piety, 
thou hast gone to receive thine inheritance above, and wear the 
Amaranthine Crown ! for thou didst obey the Saviour's sternest 
mandate — sold thy possessions, and gave all to the poor ! 



CHAPTEE XL. 



THE CRISIS OF EXISTEXCE A DREADFUL PAGE I\ LIFE. 

I HAVE paused much before writing this chapter. I have 
taken up my pen and laid it down an hundred times, with the 
task unfulfilled — the duty unaccomplished. A nervous sensa- 
tion, a chill of the heart, have restrained my pen — yet the record 
must be made. 

I have that to tell, from which both body and soul shrink. 
Upon me a fearful office has been laid ! I would that others, 
with colder blood and less personal interest, could make this 
disclosure ; but it belongs to my history ; nay, is the very 
nucleus from which all my reflections upon the institution of 
slavery have sprung. Reader, did you ever have a wound — a 
deep, almost a mortal wound — whereby your life was threat- 
ened, which, after years of nursing and skilful surgical treat- 
ment, had healed, and was then again rudely torn open ? This 
is my situation. I am going to tear open, with a rude hand, a 
deep wound, that time and kind friends have not availed 
to cure. But like little, timid children, hurrying through 
a dark passage, fearing to look behind them, I shall hasten 
rapidly over this part of my life, never pausing to comment 
upon the terrible facts I am recording. " I have placed my 
hand to the ploughshare, and will not turn back." 

Let me recall that fair and soft evening, in the early Sep- 
tember, when Henry and I, with hand clasped in hand, sat to- 
gether upon the little balcony. How sweet-scented was the 
gale that fanned our brows ! The air was soft and balmy, and 

L381] 



382 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



the sweet serenity of the hour was broken only by that ever- 
pleasant music of the gently-roaring falls! Fair and queenly 
sailed the uprisen moon, through a cloudless sea of blue, whilst 
a few faint stars, like fire-flies, seemed flitting round her. 

Long we talked of the happiness that awaited us on the 
morrow. Henry had arranged to meet his master, Mr. Graham, 
on that day, and make the final payment. 

*' Dearest, I lack but fifty dollars of the amount," he said, as 
he laid his head confidingly on my shoulder. 
Ten of which I can give you." 

And the remaining forty I will make up," said Miss Nancy 
as she stepped out of the door, and, placing a pocket-book in 
Henry's hand, she added, " there is the amount, take it and be 
happy." 

Whilst he was returning thanks, I went to get my contribu- 
tion. Drawing from my trunk the identical ten-dollar note 
that good Mr. Trueman had given me, I hastened to present it 
to Henry, and make out the sum that was to give us both so 
much joy. 

" Here, Henry," I exclaimed, as I rejoined them, are ten 
dollars, which kind Mr. Trueman gave me." 

Miss Nancy sighed deeply. I turned around, but she said 
with a smile : 

" How different is your life now from what it was when that 
money was given you." 

"Yes, indeed,'^ I ansAvered; "and, thanks, my noble benefac- 
tress, to you for it.'^ 

Let me," she continued, without noticing my remark, " see 
that note." 

I immediately handed it to her. Could I be mistaken? No ; 
she actually pressed it to her lips ! But then she w^as such a 
philanthropist, and she loved the note because it was the means 
of bringing us happiness. She handed it back to me with 
another sigh. 

" When he gave it to me, he bade me receive it as his contri- 
bution toward the savings I was about to lay up for the pur- 



PLANS FOR THE FUTURE. 



383 



chase of myself. Now what joy it gives me to hand it to you, 
Henry." He was weeping, and could not trust his voice to 
answer. 

And Ann shall soon be free. Next week we will all start 
for the North, and then, my good friends, your white days will 
commence," said Miss Nancy. 

" Oh, Heaven bless you, dear saint,'' cried Henry, whose 
utterance was choked by tears. Miss Nancy and I both wept 
heartily ; but mine were happy tears, grateful as the fragrant 
- April showers ! 

"Why this is equal to a camp-meeeting,'' exclaimed Louise, 
who had, unperceived by us, entered the front-door, passed 
through the hall, and now joined us upon the portico. 

Upon hearing of Henry's good fortune, she began to weep 
also. 

Will you not let me make one of the party for the North]" 
she inquired of ^liss Nancy. 

" Certainly, we shall be glad to have you, Louise ; but come, 
Henry, get your banjo, and play us a pleasant tune." 

He obeyed with alacrity, and I never heard his voice sound 
so rich, clear and ringing. How magnificent he looked, with 
the full radiance of the moonlight streaming over his face and 
form ! His long flossy black hair was thrown gracefully back 
from his broad and noble brow : whilst his dark flashins: eve 
beamed w^ith unspeakable joy, and the animation that flooded his 
soul lent a thrill to his voice, and a majesty to his frame, that 
I had never seen or heard before. Surely I was very proud 
and happy as I looked on him then ! 

Before we parted. Miss Nancy invited him and Louise to join 
us in family devotion. After reading a chapter in the Bible, and 
a short but eloquent and impressive prayer, she besought 
Heaven to shed its most benign blessings on us ; and that our 
approaching good fortune might not make us forget Him from 
whom every good and perfect gift emanated ; and thus closed 
that delightful evening ! 

After Henry had taken an affectionate farewell of me, and 



384 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



departed with Louise, he, to my surprise, returned Id a few mo- 
ments, and finding the house still open, called me out upon the 
lalcony. 

Dearest, I could not resist a strange impulse that urged me 
to come back and look upon you once again. How beautiful 
you are, my love!'' he said as he pushed the masses of hair 
away from my brow, and imprinted a kiss thereon. He was so 
tardy in leaving, that I had to chide him two or three times. 

I cannot leave you, darling." 

But think," I replied, " of the joy that awaits us on the 
morrow." 

At last, and at Miss Nancy's req^uest, he left, but turned every 
fev7 steps to look back at the house. 

" How foolish Henry is to-night," said Miss Nancy, as she 
withdrew her head from the open window. " Success and love 
have made him foolishly fond !" 

Quite turned his brain," I replied ; " but he will soon be calm 
again." 

*'0h, yes, he will find that life is an earnest work, as well for 
the freeman as the bondsman." 

I lay for a long time on my bed in a state of sleeplessness, 
and it was past midnight when I fell asleep, and then, oh, 
what a terrible dream came to torture me ! I thought I had 
been stolen off by a kidnapper, and confined for safe keeping in 
a charnel-house, an ancient receptacle for the dead, and there, 
with blue lights burning round me, I lay amid the dried bones 
and fleshless forms of those who had once been living beings ; 
and the vile and loathsome gases almost stifled me. By that 
dim blue light I strove to find some door or means of egress 
from the terrible place, and just as I had found the door and 
was about to fit a rusty key into the lock, a long, lean body, 
decked out in shroud, winding-sheet and cap, with hollow cheek 
and cadaverous face, and eyes devoid of all speculation, suddenly 
seized me with its cold, skeleton hand. Slowly the face as- 
sumed the express-ion of Lindy's, then faded into that of Mr. 
Peterkin's. I attempted to break from it, but I was held with 



EFFECTS OF THE DREAM. 



3S5 



a vice-like power. With a loud, frantic scream I broke from tlie 
trammels of sleep. A cold, death-like sweat had broken out on 
my bod}'. My screaming had aroused Miss Xancy and Biddy. 
Both came rushing into my room. 

After a few moments I told them of my dream. 

" A bad attack of incubus," remarked Miss Nancy, but she 
is cold ; rub her well, Biddy." 

With a very good will the kind-hearted Irish girl obeyed her. 
I could not, however, be prevailed upon to try to sleep again; 
and as it w^anted but an hour of the dawn, Biddy consented to 
remain up w^ith me. We dressed ourselves, and sitting down 
by the closed window, entered into a very cheerful conversation. 
Biddy related many wild legends of the ould country^' in which 
I took great interest. 

Gradually we saw the stars disappear, and the moon go down, 
and the pale gray streaks of dawn in the eastern sky ! 

I threw up the windows, exclaiming : " Oh, Biddy, as the 
day dawns, I begin to suilocate. I feel just as I did in the 
dream. Give me air, quick." More I could not utter, for I fell 
fainting in the arms of the faithful girl. She dashed water in 
my face, chafed my hands and temples, and consciousness soon 
returned, 

"Why, happiness and good fortune do excite you strangely; 
but they say there are some that it sarves just so." 

Oh no, Biddy, I am not very well, — a little nervous. I will 
take some medicine." 

When I joined Miss Nancy, she refused to let me assist her 
in dressing, saying : 

No, Ann, you look ill. Don't trouble yourself to do any- 
thing. Go lie down and rest." 

I assured her repeatedly that I was perfectly well ; but she 
only smiled, and said in a commendatory tone, 

" Good girl, good girl !" 

All the morning I was fearfully nervous, starting at every 
little sound or noise. At length Miss Nancy became seriously 
uneasy, and compelled me to take a sedative. 
17 



386 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



As the day wore on, I began to grow calm. The sedative 
had taken effect, and mj nervousness was allayed- 

I took my sewing in the afternoon, and seated myself in 
Miss Nancy's room. Seeing that I was calm, she began a pleas- 
ant conversation with me. 

" Henry will be here to-night, Ann, a free man, the owner of 
himself, the custodian of his own person, and you must put on 
your happiest and best looks to greet him." 

Ah, Miss Xancy, it seemis like too much joy for me to 
realize. What if some grim phantom dash down this sparkling 
cup; just as we are about to press it to our eager and expect- 
ant lips ? Such another disappointment I could not endure. 

You little goosey, you will mar half of life's joys by these 
idle fears.'' 

" Yes, Miss Xancy," put in Biddy. " Ann is just so uar- 
vous ever since that ugly dream, that she hain't no faith to-day 
in anything." 

** Have you baked a pretty cake, and got plenty of nice con- 
fections ready to give Henry a celebration supper, good Biddy 
inquired Miss Xancy. 

Ah, yes, everything is ready, only just look how I'-ght and 
brown my cake is," and she brought a tine large cake from the 
pantry, the savory odor of which would have tempted an an- 
chorite. 

Then, too," continued the provident Biddy, '* the peaches are 
unusually soft and sweet. I have pared and sugared them, 
and they are on the ice now ; oh, we'll have a rale feast." 

" Thanks, thanks, good friends," I said, in a voice choked 
with emotion. 

Only just see,'' exclaimed Biddy, here comes Louise, 
running as fast as her legs will carry her ; she's come to be the 
first to tell you that Henry is free.'' 

I rushed with Biddy to the door, and Miss Xancy followed. 
We were all eager to hear the good news. 

Mercy, Louise, what's the matter ?" I cried, for her face 
terrified me. She was pale as death ; her eyes, black and wild, 



THE CALAMITY. 



387 



seemed starting from their sockets, and around her mouth there 
was that ghastly, livid look, that almost congealed my blood. 

"Oh, God!" she cried in frenzy, ''God have mercy on us 
all!" and reeled against the wall. 

" Speak, woman, speak, in heaven's name,'' I shouted aloud. 
*' Henry ! Henry ! Henry ! has aught happened to him ?" 

'* Oh, God!" she said, and her eyes flamed like a fury's; 

he has cut his throaty and now lies weltering in his own 
blood." 

I did not scream, I did not speak. I shed no tears. I did 
not even close my eyes. Every sense had turned to stone ! 
For full five minutes I stood looking in the face of Louise. 
. Why don't you speak, Ann ! Cry, imprecate, do some- 
thing, rather than stand there with that stony gaze 1" said 
Louise, as she caught me frantically by the arm. 

" Why did he kill himself?" I asked, in an unfaltering 
tone. 

'* He went, in high spirits, to make his last payment to his 
master, who was at the hotel. ' Here, master,' he said, ' is all 
that I owe you ; please make out the bill of sale, or my free 
papers.' Mr. Grahan took the money, with a smile, counted it 
over twice, slowly placed it in his pocket-book, and said, 
* Henry, you are my slave ; I hired you to a good place, where 
you were well treated ; had time to make money for yourself. 
Now, according to law, you, as a slave, cannot have or hold 
property. Everything, even to your knife, is your master's. 
All of your earnings come to me. So, in point of law, I was 
entitled to all the money that you have paid me. Legally it 
was mine, not yours ; so I did but receive from you my own. 
Notwithstanding all this I was willing to let you have yourself, 
and intended to act with you according to our first arrange- 
ment ; but upon coming here the other day, a servant girl of Mr. 
Bodly's, named Lindy, informed me that 'you were making 
preparations to run off, and cheat me out of the last payment. 
She stated that you had told her so ; and you intended to start 
one night this week. I was so enraged by it, that yesterday I 



3S8 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



sold you to a negro trader ; and you must start down the 
river to-morrow/ " 

'Master, it is a lie of the girl's ; I never had any thought of 
running off, or cheating you out of your money.' Henry then 
told him of Lindy's malice. 

" ' Yes, you have proved it was a lie, by coming and paying 
me : but nothing can be done now; I have signed the papers, 
and you are the property of Atkins. I have not the power to 
undo what I have done.' 

* But, Master,' pleaded Henry, ' can't you refund the 
money that I have paid you, and let me buy myself from Mr. 
Atkins V 

^ Refund the money, indeed 1 Who ever heard of such im- 
pertinence ? Have I not just shown that all that you made was 
by right of law mine ? Xo ; go down the river, serve your time, 
work well, and may be in the course of fifteen or twenty years 
you may be able to buy yourself.' 

** ' Oh, master!' cried out the w^eeping Henry, * pity me, 
please save me, do something.' 

' I can do nothing for you ; go, get your trunk ready, here 
comes Mr. Atkins for you.' 

Henry turned towards the hard trader, and with a face con- 
tracted with pain, and eyes raining tears, begged for mercy. 

" * Go long you fool of a nigger ! an' git ready to go to the 
pen, without this fuss, or I'll have you tied with ropes, and 
taken.' 

Henry said no more ; I had overheard all from an adjoining 
room. I tried to avoid him ; but he sought me out. 

* Louise,' he said, in a tone which I shall never forget. 
*' * I have heard all,' was my reply. 

' Will you see Ann for me ? Take her a word from me ? 
Tell how it was, Louise ; break the news gently to her.' Here 
he quite gave up, and, sinking into a chair, sobbed and cried 
like a child. 

" 'Be a friend to her, Louise ; I know that she will need much 
kindness to sustain her. Thank Miss Nancy for all her kind- 



THE LETTER. 



389 



ness ; tell her that I blest her before I went. Tell Ann to 
stay with her, and oh, Louise' — here he wrung his hands in 
agony — ' tell Ann not to grieve for me ; but she mustn't for- 
get me. Poor, wretched outcast that I am, I have loved her 
well ! After awhile, when time has softened this blow, she 

must try to love and be happy with Xo, no, I'll not ask 

that ; only bid her not be wretched ; — but give me pen and ink, 
I'll write just one word to her.' 

**I gave him the ink, pen and paper, and he wrote this." 

As Louise drew a soiled, blotted paper from her bosom, I 
eagerly snatched it and read : 

" Ann, dearest, Louise will tell you all. Our dream is broken 
forever ! I avi sold ; but I shall be a slave no more. Forgive 
me for what I am going to do. Madness has driven me to it ! 
I love you, even in death I love you. Say farewell to Miss 
Nancy — I aui gone ! " 

I read it over twice slowly. One scalding tear, large and 
round, fell upon it ! I know not where it came from, for my 
eyes were dry as a parched leaf. 

The note dropped from my hands, almost unnoticed by me. 
Biddy picked it up, and handed it to Miss Nanc}^ who read it 
and fainted. I m.oved about mechanically ; assisted in restor- 
iHg Miss Nancy to consciousness; chafed her hands and temples ; 
and, when she came to, and burst into a flood of tears, I sooth- 
ed her and urged that she would not weep or distress her- 
self. 

" I wonder that the earth don't open and swallow them," 
cried the weeping Biddy. 

*' Hush, Biddy, hush I urged. 
**They ought to be hung ! " 

" * Vengeance is mine, and I will repay, saith the Lord,' " I 
replied. 

Oh, Ann, you are crazy !" she uttered. 
And so, in truth, I was. That granite-like composure was a 
species of insanity. I comprehended nothing that was going 
on around me. I was in a sort of sleep-waking state, when I 



390 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



asked Louise if slie thought they would bury liim decently ; 
and gave her a bunch of flowers to place in the coffin. 

And so my worst suspicion was realized ! Through Lindy 
came my heaviest blow of affliction ! I fear that even now, 
after the lapse of years, I have not the Christianity to ask, 

Father, forgive her, for she knew not what she did !" Lying 
beside 'me now, dear, sympathetic reader, is that note — Ms last 
brief icords. Before writing this chapter I read it over. Old, 
soiled and worn it was, but by his trembling fingers those blot- 
ted and irregular lines were penned ; and to me they are pre- 
cious, though they awaken ten thousand bitter emotions ! I 
look at the note but once a year, and then on the fatal anniver- 
sary, which occurs to-day ! I have pressed it to my heart, 
and hearsed it away, not to be re-opened for another year. Tl^is 
is the blackest chapter in my dark life, and you will feel, with 
me, glad that it is about to close. I have nerved myself for the 
duty of recording it, and, now that it is over, I sink down faint 
and broken-hearted beside the accomplished task. 



CHAPTER XLI. 



A REVELATION DEATH THE PEACEFUL ANGEL — CALMNESS. 

Months passed by after the events told in the last chapter — 
passed, I scarce know how. They have told me that I wandered 
about like one in the mazes of a troubled dream. My reason 
was disturbed. I've no distinct idea how the days or weeks 
were employed. Vague remembrances of kindly words, music, 
odorous flowers, and a trip to a beautifal, quiet country-house, 
I sometimes have; but 'tis all so misty and dream -like, that 
I can form no tangible idea of it. So this period has almost 
faded out of mind, and is like lost pages from the chronicle 
of life. 

When the winter was far spent, and during the snowy days of 
February, my mind began to collect its shattered forces. The 
approach of another trouble brought back consciousness with re- 
kindled vigor. 

One day I became aware that Miss Nancy was very ill. It 
seemed as if a thick vapor, like a breath-stain on glass, had sud- 
denly been wiped away from my mind; and I saw clearl}^ 
There lay Miss Nancy upon her bed, appallingly white, with 
her large eyes sunken deeply in their sockets, and her lips purple 
as an autumn leaf. Her thin, white hand, v>dth discolored nails, 
was thrown upon the covering, and aroused my alarm. I rush- 
ed to her, fearing that the vital spark no longer animated that 
loved and once lovely frame. 

" Miss Nancy, dear Miss Nancy," I cried, "speak to me, only 
one word." 

She started nervously, Oh, who are you ? Ah, Ann — is it 
Ann r 

[891] 



392 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



" Yes, dear Miss Nancj, it is /. It appears as tbongh a film 
had been removed from my eyes, and I see how selfish I have 
been. You have suffered for my attention. W hat has been the 
matter with me ?'• 

" Oh, dear child, a fearfol dispensation of Providence was 
sent yon; and from the chastisement you are about recovering. 
Thank Grod, that you are still the mistress of your reason I For 
its safety, I often trembled. I did aU for you that I could ; but 
I was fearful that human skill would be of no avail." 

" Thanks, my kind friend, and sorry I am for all the anxiety 
and uneasiness that I have given you." 

" Oh, I am repaid, or rather was pre-paid for all and more, 
you were so kind to me." 

Here Biddy entered, and I took down the Bible and read a 
few chapters from the book of Job. 

" What a comfort that book is to us," said Biddy, Many '3 
the time, Ann, that Miss Xancy read it to you, when you'd sit 
an' look so wandering-like ; but you are well now. Ann, an' all 
will be right with us." 

**AIl can never be, Biddy, as ouce i: iras," and I shook my 
head. 

" Oh, don't spake of it," and she wiped her moist eyes with 
her aproK. 

Days and weeks passed on thus smoothly, during which time 
Louise came often to see us : but the fatal sorrow was never al- 
luded to. By common consent all avoided it. 

Daily, hourly, 3Iiss Nancy's health sank. I never saw the 
footsteps of the grim monster approach more rapidly than in 
her case. The wasting of her cheek was like the eating of a 
worm at the heart of a rose. 

Her Led was wheeled close to the fire, and I read, all the 
pleasant mornings, some cheerful book to her. 

Her brother came often, and sat with her through the even- 
ings. Many of her friends and neighbors offered to watch with 
her at night ; but she bade me decline all such kindness. 

** You and Biddy are enough. I want no others. Let me die 



ROBERT WORTH. 



393 



calmly, in the presence of my own household, with no unusual 
faces around,'* she said in a low tone. 

She talked about her death as though it were some long 
journey upon which she was about starting ; gave directions 
how she should be shrouded ; what kind of coffin we must get, 
tomb-stone, &:c. She enjoined that we inscribe nothing but her 
age and name upon the tomb-stone. 

I wish no ostentatious slab, no false eulogium ; my name 
and age are all the epitaph I deserve, and all that I will have." 

Several ministers came to see her, and held prayer. She re- 
ceived them kindly, and spoke at length with some. 

" I shall meet the great change with resignation. I had 
hoped, Ann, to see you well settled somewhere in the North ; 
but that will be denied me. In my Avill, I have remembered 
both you and Biddy. I have no parting advice for either of 
you ; for you are both, though of different faith, consistent 
Christians. I hope we shall meet hereafter. You must not 
weep, girls, for it pains me to think I leave you troubled.'' 

When Biddy withdrew, she called me to her, saying, 

'* Ann, I am feeble, draw hear the bed whilst I talk to you, 
I hold here in my hand a letter from my nephew, Eobert 
Worth." 

Robert Worth ? Why I—" 

Yes, he says that he was at Mr. Peterkin's and remem^bers 
you well. He also speaks of Emily Bradly, who is now in 
Boston ; says that she recollects you well, and is pleased to hear 
of your good fortune. Eobert is the son of my elder sister, 
who is now deceased ; a favorite he always was of mine. He 
read law in Mr. Trueman's office, and has a very successful 
practice at the Boston bar. Long time ago, Ann, when I w^as 
a young, blooming girl, my sister Lydia (Robert's mother) and 
I were at school at a very celebrated academy in the North. 
During one of our vacations, when we were on a visit to Boston 
— for we were country girls — we were introduced to two young 
barristers, William Worth and Justinian Trueman. They 
were strong personal friends. 
17* 



394 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



The former became much attached to my sister, and came 
frequently to see her. Justinian Trueman came also. By the 
force of circumstance, Islj. Trueman and I were thrown much 
together. From his lofty conversation and noble principles, I 
gained great advantage. I loved to listen to his candid avowal 
of free, democratic principles. How bravely he set aside con- 
ventionality and empty forms ; he was a searcher after the soul 
of things ! He was the very essence of honor, alwaj's ready to 
sacrifice himself for others, and daily and hourly crucified his 
heart ! 

Chance threw us much together, as I have said. You may 
infer what ensued. Two persons so similar in nature, so united 
in purpose (though he was vastly my superior), could not 
associate much and long together without a feeling of love 
springing up ! Our case did not differ from that of others. IVe 
loved. Xot as the careless or ordinary love ; but with a fervor, 
a depth of passion, and a concentration of soul, which nothing 
in life could destroy, 

My sister was the chosen bride of William Worth. This fact 
was known to all the household. Justinian and I read in each 
other s manner the secret of the heart. 

**At length, in one brief hour, he told me his story ; he was the 
only child of a widowed mother, who had spent her all upon his 
education. "Whilst he was away, her wants had been tenderly 
ministered to by a very lovely young girl of \vealth and social 
position. Upon her death-bed his mother besought him to 
marry this lady. He was then inflamed with gratitude, and, 
being free in heart, he mistook the nature of his feelings. Whilst 
in this state^f mind, he offered himself to her and was instantly 
accepted. Afterwards when we met he understood how he had 
been beguiled ! 

He wrote to his betrothed, told her the state of his feelings, 
that he loved another; but declared his willingness to redeem 
his promise, and stand by his engagement if she wished. 

How anxiously we both awaited her reply ! It came 
promptly, and she desired, nay demanded, the fulfilment of 



OLD MEMORIES. 



395 



the engagement ; even reminded him of his promise to his 
mother, and of the obligation he was under to herself. 

No tongue can describe the agony that we both endured ; yet 
principle must be obeyed. We parted. They were married. 
Twice afterwards I saw him. He was actively engaged in his 
profession ; but the pale cheek and earnest look told me that 
he still thought lovingly of me ! My sister married William 
Worth, and resided in Boston ; but her husband died early in 
life, leaving his only child Robert to the care of Mr. Trueman. 
After my mother's death, possessing myself of my patrimony, I 
removed west, to this city, where my brother lived. I had 
been separated from him for a number of years, and was sur- 
prised to find how entirely a Southern residence had changed 
him. Owing to some little domestic difficulties, I declined re- 
maining in his family. 

Last winter, when Justinian Trueman was here, I was out 
of the city ; and it was well that I was, for I could not have 
met him again. Old feelings, that should be cradled to rest, 
would have been aroused ! My brother saw him, and told me 
that he looked well. 

"Now, is it not strange that you should have been an object 
of such especial interest to both of us ? It seems as though 
you were a centre around which we were once more re-united. 
I have written him a long letter, which I wish you to deliver 
upon your arrival in Boston." Here she drew from the port- 
folio that was lying on the bed beside her, a sealed letter, 
directed to Justinian Trueman, Boston, Mass. 

I was weeping violently when I took it from her. 

She lingered thus for several weeks, and on a calm Sabbath 
morning, as I was reading to her from the Bible, she said to 
me — 

Ann, I am sleepy ; my eyelids are closing; turn me over.'* 
As I attempted to do it she pressed my hand tightly, straight- 
ened her body out, and the last struggle was over ! I was alone 
with her. Laying her gently upon the pillow, I for tlie first 
time in my life pressed my lips to that cold, marble brow. I 



396 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



felt that she, holy saint, would not object to it, were she able to 
speak. I then called Biddy in to assist me. She was loud in 
her lamentation. 

She bade us not weep for her, Biddy. She is happier 
now but, though I spoke this in a composed tone, my heart 
was all astir with emotion. 

Soon her brother came in, bringing with him a minister. He 
received the mournful intelligence with subdued grief 

We robed her for Death's bridal, e'en as she had requested, 
in white silk, flannel, and white gloves. Her coffin was plain 
mahogony, with a plate upon the top, upon which were en- 
graved her nam.e, age, and birth-place. 

A funeral sermon was preached, by a minister who had been 
a strong personal friend. In a retired portion of the public 
burial-ground we made her last bed. A simple tombstone, as 
she directed, was placed over the grave, her name, age, &c., 
insciibed thereon. 

Bridget and I slept in the same house that night. We could 
not be persuaded to leave it, and there, in Miss Nancy's dear, 
familiar room, we held, as usual, family devotion. I almost 
fancied that she stood in the midst, and was gazing well- 
pleased upon us. 

That night I slept profoundly. My rest had been broken a 
great deal, and now the knowledge that duty did not keep me 
awake, enabled me to sleep well. 

On the next day Mr. Worth arrived, and was much dis- 
tressed to find that he was too late to see his aunt alive. 

Though he looked older and more serious than when I last 
saw him, I readily recognized the same noble expression of 
face. He received me very kindly, and thanked Biddy and me 
for our attentions to his beloved aunt. He showed us a letter 
she had written, in which she spoke of us in the kindest man- 
ner, and recommended us to his care. 

"Neither of you shall ever lack for friendship whilst I live,'* 
he said, as he warmly shook us by the hands. 

He told me that he had ever retained a vivid recollection of 



THE BEQUESTS. 



397 



my sad face ; and inquired about young Master." When I 
told him that he was dead, and gave an account of his life and 
sufferings, Mr. Worth remarked — 

Ah, yes, he was one of heaven's angels, lent us only for a 
short season." 

I accompanied him to his aunt's grave. 

* * # # # # 

Upon the reading of the will, it was discovered that Miss 
Nancy had liberated me, and left me, as a legacy, four thousand 
dollars, with the request that I would live somewhere in the 
North. To Biddy she had left a bequest of three thousand 
dollars ; the remainder of her fortune, after making a donation 
to her brother, was left to her nephew, Robert Worth. 

The will was instantly carried into effect ; as it met with no 
opposition, and she owed no debts, matters were arranged satis- 
factorily ; and we prepared for departure. 

Louise had made all her arrangements to go with us. I was 
now a free woman, in the possession of a comparative fortune ; 
yet I was not happy. Alas ! I had out-lived all for which 
money and freedom were valuable, and I cared not how the 
remainder of my days were spent. Why cannot the means of 
happiness come to us when we have the capacity for enjoy- 
ment ■? 

On the evening before our departure, I called Louise to me 
and asked. 

Where is Henry's grave ?" It was the first time since 
that fatal day that I had mentioned his name to her. 

" He is buried far away, in a plain, unmarked grave ; but, 
even if it were near, you should not go," she replied. 

" Tell me, who found him, after — after — after the murder 
Mr. Graham and Atkins went in search of him, and I fol- 
lowed them ; though he had told me what he was going to do, 
Ann, I could not oppose or even dissuade him." 

I wept freely ; and, as is always the case, was relieved by it. 
I am glad to see that you can weep. It will do you good," 
said Louise. 



CHAPTER XLTI 



CONCLUSION. 

But little more remains to be told of my history. 

When Louise, Biddy and I, under the protection of Mr. 
"Worth, sailed on a pleasant steamer from the land of slavery, 
I could but thank my God that I was leaving forever the 
State, beneath the sanction of whose laws the vilest outrages 
and grossest inhumanities were committed ! 

Our trip would, indeed, have been delightful, but that I was 
constantly contrasting it in my own mind with what it might 
have been, had he not fallen a victim to the white man's 
cupidity. 

Often I stole away from the company, and, in the privacy of 
my own room, gave vent to my pent-up grief. Biddy and 
Louise were in ecstacies with everything that they saw. 

All along the route, after passing out of the Slave States, we 
met with kind friends and genuine hospitality. The Xorthern 
people are noble, generous, and philanthropic ; and it affords 
me pleasure to record here a tribute to their worth and kind- 
ness. 

Li New York we met with the best of friends. Everywhere 
I saw smiling, black faces ; a sight rarely beheld in the cities 
and villages of the South. I saw men and women of the despised 
race, who walked with erect heads and respectable carriage, 
as though they realized that they were men and women, not 
mere chattels. 

When we reached Boston I was made to feel this in a par_ 
ticular manner. There I met full-blooded Africans, finely edu- 
cated, in the possession of princely talents, occupying good 
positions, wielding a powerful political influence, and illustrat- 

[398] 



A SAFE DELIVERANCE. 



399 



ing, in their lives, the oft-disputed fact, that the African intel- 
lect is equal to the Caucasian. Soon after my arrival in Boston 
I found out, from Mr. Worth, the residence of Mr. Trueman, 
and called to see him. 

I was politely ushered by an Irish waiter into the study, 
where I found Mr. Trueman engaged with a book. At first he 
did not recognize me ; but I soon made myself known, and 
received from him a most hearty welcome. 

I related all the incidents in my life that had occurred since 
I had seen him last. He entered fully into my feelings, and I 
saw the tear glisten in his calm eyes when I spoke of poor 
Henry's awful fate. 

I told him of Miss Nancy's kindness, and the tears rolled 
down his cheeks. I did not speak of what she had told me in 
relation to their engagement ; I merely stated that she had 
referred to him as a particular personal friend, and when I gave 
him the letter he received it with a tremulous hand, uttered a 
fearful groan, and buried his face among the papers that lay 
scattered over his table. Without a spoken good-bye, I with- 
drew. 

I saw him often after this ; and from him received the most 
signal acts of kindness. He thanked me many times for what 
he termed my fidelity to his sainted friend. He never spoke 
of her without a quiver of the lip, and I honored him for his 
constancy. 

He strongly urged me to take up my residence in Boston ; 
but I remembered that Henry's preference had always been for a 
New England village ; and I loved to think that I was follow- 
ing out his views, and so I removed to a quiet puritanical little 
town in Massachusetts. 

And here I now am engaged in teaching a small school of 
African children ; happy in the discharge of so sacred a duty. 
'Tis surprising to see how rapidly they learn. I am interested, 
and so are they, in the work : and thus what with some teach- 
ers is an irksome task, is to me a pleasing duty. 

I should state for the benefit of the curious, that Biddy is 



400 



AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FEMALE SLAVE. 



living in Boston, happily married to " a countryman," and is 
the proud mother of several blooming children. She comes to 
visit me sometimes, during the heat of summer, and is always 
a welcome guest. 

Louise, too, has consented to wear matrimony's easy yoke. 
She lives in the same village with me. Our social and friendly 
relations still continue. I have frequently, when visiting Bos- 
ton, met Miss Bradly. She, like me, has never married. She 
has grown to be a firmer and more earnest woman than she 
w^as in Kentucky. I must not omit to mention the fact, that 
when travelling through Canada, I by the rarest chance met 
Ben — Amy's treasure — now grown to be a fine-looking youth. 

He had a melancholy story — a life, like every other slave's, 
full of trouble — but at length, by the sharpest ingenuity, he 
had made his escape, and reached, after many difficulties, the 
golden shores of Canada ! 

Now my history has been given — a round, unvarnished tale 
it is ; and thus, without ornament, I send it forth to the world. 
I have spoken freely ; at times, I grant, wuth a touch of bitter- 
ness, but never without truth ; and I ask the wise, the consid- 
erate, the earnest, if I have not had cause for bitterness. Who 
can carp at me ? That there are some fiery Southerners who will 
assail me, I doubt not; but I feel satisfied that I have discharged 
a duty that I solemnly owed to my oppressed and down-trodden 
nation. I am calm and self-possessed : I have passed firmly 
through the severest ordeal of persecution, and have been spared 
the death that has befallen many others. Surely I was saved 
for some wise purpose, and I fear nought from those who are 
fanatically wedded to wrong and inhumanity. Let them assail 
me as they will, I shall still feel that 

*' Thrice is he arnned who has hi3 quarrel just, 
And he but naked, though wrapped up in steel, 
Whose bosom with injustice is polluted." 

But there are others, some even in slave States, kind, noble, 
thoughtful persons, earnest seekers after the highest good in 



THE APPEAL. 



401 



life and nature ; to them I consign my little book, sincerely 
begging, that through my weak appeal, my poor suffering 
brothers and sisters, who yet wear the galling yoke of Ameri- 
can slavery, may be granted a hearing. 

From the distant rice-fields and sugar plantations of the fervid 
South, comes a frantic wail from the wronged, injured, and oh, 
how innocent African ! Hear it ; hear that cry, Christians of 
the North, let it ring in your ears with its fearful agony I 
Hearken to it, ye who feast upon the products of African labor ! 
Let it stay you in the use of those commodities for which their 
life-blood, aye more, their soul's life, is drained out drop by 
drop ! Talk no more, ye faint-hearted politicians, of ** expe- 
diency/' God will not hear your lame excuse in that grand 
and awful day, when He shall come in pomp and power to 
judge the quick and dead. 

And so, my history, go forth and do thy mission ! knock at 
the doors of the lordly and wealthy; there, by the shaded light 
of rosy lamps, tell your story. Creep in at the broken crevice 
of the poor man's cabin, and there make your complaint. Into 
the ear of the brave, energetic mechanic, sound the burden of 
your grief. To the strong-hearted blacksmith, sweating over his 
furnace, make yourself heard ; and ask them, one and all, shall 
this unjust institution of slavery be perpetuated ? Shall it dare 
to desecrate, with its vile presence, the new territories that are 
now emphatically free ? Shall Nebraska and Kansas join in a 
blood-spilling coalition with the South ? 

Answer proudly, loudly, brave men ; and answer, iVc?, No / 
My work is done. 



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Henry T. Tuckermax, Author of Sicily, a Pilgrimage," " A ^lonth 
in England,'' &c., &c. 12mo, cloth. Price 75 cents. 

Minnesota and its Resources ; to which are appended 

Camp-Eire Sketches, or Notes of a Trip from St. Paul to Pembina and 
Selkirk Settlements on the Red Oliver of the North. By J. W^eslet Bond. 
With a New Map of the Tenitory, a View of St. Paul, and one of the 
Ealls of St. Anthony. I vol., 12mb, cloth. Price $1 00. 

The Private Life of an Easte n King. By a Member of 

the Household of his Late Majesty, .Nussir-u-deen, King of Onde. 12mo^ 
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Doran's Qneens of Engl? nd. The Queens of England, 

of th2 House of Hanover. Dr. Doran, Author of ''T\ble Traits,*' 
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REDFIELD'S PUBLK A'i |0\S. — BELLES-LETTRES. "7 



BELLES-LETTEES. 

Revolutionary Tales, by Wm. Gilmore Simms, Esq. New and Re- 
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The Partisan ; A Romance of the Eevolution. 12mo, 
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Mellichampe; A Legend of the Santee. ISmo, cloth. 
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Katharine "Walton; or. The Rebel of Dorchester. 12mo, 

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The Scout; or, The Black Riders of the Oongaree. 

12mo, cloth. Price $1 25. 

Woodcraft; or, The Hawks about the Dovecote. 12mo, 

cloth. Price $1 25. 

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I. Guy Rivers. A Tale of Georgia. 12mo, cloth. 

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II. Richard Hurdis. A Tale of Alabama. 12mo, cloth. 
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III. Border Beagles. A Tale of Mississippi. 12mo, cloth. 

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V. Beauchampe ; or, Tlie Kentucky Tragedy. 12mo, 

cloth. Price $1 25. 

Vr. Confession; or. The Blind Heart. 12mo5 clcth, 

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The Yemassee ; A Romance of South Carolina. By 

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Southward, Ho ! a Spell of Sunshine. By Wm. Gil- 
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4 REDFIELD'S P JBLICATIOXS HISTORY AND BIOGRAPHY. 



The History of Texas, from its Settlement in 16S5 to its 

Annexation to the United States. By H. Yoakum, Esq., of the Texas 
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Price $5 00. [In Press.] 

Tlie History of Louisiana — Spanish Domination. By 

Charles Gat irre. 8vo, cloth. Price $2 50. 

The Histofy of Louisiana — French Domination. By 
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The Life of P. T. Barnum, written by himself; in which 

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A Memorial of Horatio Greenough, consisting of a 

Memoir, Selections from his Writings, and Tributes to his Genius, by 
Henry T. Tuckerman, Author of " Sicily, a Pilgrimage," " A ^lonth 
in England," &c., &c. 12mo, cloth. Price 75 cents. 

Minnesota and its Resources ; to which are appended 

Camp-Eire Sketches, or Notes of a Trip from St. Paul to Pembina and 
Selkirk Settlements on the Red 'RWev of the North. By J. Wesley Bond. 
With a New Map of the Tenitory, a View of St. Paul, and one of the 
Falls of St. Anthony. I yol., 12mb, cloth. Price $1 00. 

The Private Life of an Easte n King. By a Member of 

the Household of his Late Majesty, .\ussir-u-deen. King of Oude. 12mo^ 
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Doran's Queens of Engl? ad. The Queens of England, 
of th3 House of Hanoyer. B- Dr. Doran, Author of "T\ble Traits," 
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REDFIELD*S PUBLK A'J ION?:. — BELLES-LETTRES. 7 



BELLES-LETTRES. 

Revolutionary Tales, by Wm. Gilmore Simms, Esq. New and B©- 

vised Editions, with Illustrations by Darlev. 

The Partisan ; A Romance of the Eevolution. 12mo, 
cloth. Price SI 25. 

Mellicliampe ; A Legend of the Santee. 12mo, cloth. 

Price $1 25. 

Katharine Walton; or. The Eebel of Dorchester. 12mo, 

cloth. Price SI 25. 

The Scout; or, The Black Riders of the Congaree. 

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"Woodcraft; or, The Hawks about the Dovecote. 12mo, 

cloth. Price $1 25. 

The Forayers ; or, The Raid of the Dog-Days. A New 

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Eutaw. A Jsew Revolutionaiy Romance. 12ino, cloth. 

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Simms's Border Romances of the South, New and Revised Editions. 

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I. Guy Rivers. A Tale of Georgia. 12mo, cloth. 

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II. Richard Hurdis. A Tale of Alabama. 12mo, cloth. 

Price $1 25. 

HI. Border Beagles. A Tale of Mississippi. 12mo, cloth. 

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IV. Charlemont. A Tale of Kentucky. 12mo, cloth. 

Price $1 25. 

Y. Beauchampe ; or. The Kentucky Tragedy. 12mo, 

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Vr. Confession; or, The Blind Heart. 12mo5 clcth. 

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Tlie Temassee ; A Romance of South Carolina. By 

Wm. Gilmore Sim3IS, Esq. 12nio, cloth. Price $1 25. 

Southward, Ho ! a Spell of Sunshine. By Wm. Gil- 
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8 



nEDFIELD'S r LBLirATKVXS. — BELLES-LETTRES 



The Xoctes Aml>rosianc'e. By Ptotessor TriL?o:s', J. G. 
LocKHART, James Hogg, and Dr. Magixx. Edited, with Men.oirs and 
Notef OT Dr. K. Sheltox Mackenzie. In 5 volumes. Price So 00. 

The Odoherty Papers; forming the first portion of the 
'Miscellaneous Writings of the late D^. Magi>'>'. TVith an Original 
Memoir, and copious Xotes, bv Dr. R. Sheltox Mackenzie. 2 vols. 
Price S2 00. 

Tlie Sliakespeare Papers, and the Homeric Ballads; 

forming Vol. III. of the Miscellaneous "Writings of the late Dr. ^Iaginn. 
Edited by Dr. R. Shelton ^Llckenzie. [In Press.] 

Bits of Bhirney. By Dr. P. Sheltox Mackenzie, 

Editor of "Shell's Sketches of the Irish Bar,'' '-Xocres Ainbrosianae," 
&c. 12mo, cloth. Price SI 00. 

Table Traits. By Dr. DoPwAx, Author of Habits and 

Men," ^vcc. 12mo, cloth. Si 25. 

Habits and Men. By Dr. Dor.\n, Author of ^* Table 

Traits," '* The Queens of England under the House of Hanover." 12mo, 
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Calavar; The Knight of the Conquest. A Pomance of 
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Nick of the AYoods, or the Jibbenainosay. A Tale of 
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The Pretty Plate ; A Xew and Beautiful Juvenile. By 

JoHy ViycEyx. Illustrated bv Darley 1 vol., 16mo, cloth, gilt. Price 
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Vasconselos. A Pomance of the Xew ^orld. By 

Fraxk Cooper. 12mo, cloth. Price $1 25. 

A Stray Yankee in Texas. By Philip Paxtox. With 

Illustrations bv Darley. Second Edition. 12mo, cloth. Price Si 25. 
The Wonderful Adventures of Capt. Priest. By Philip 

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"Western Characters ; being Types of Border Life in the 
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The Master-Builder : or. Life at a Trade. By Day Kel- 
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Merrimack ; or. Life at the Loom. By Day Kellogg 

Lx^. 1 vol., 12rao. Price SI 00 



I